04/12/2023, 11.55
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Pope: You cannot proclaim the Gospel with online arguments

At the general audience Francis warns against the dangers of a false zeal, the child of one's own vainglory. Recalling the 60th anniversary of John XXIII's encyclical "Pacem in Terris", the pontiff emphasises its relevance, also inviting government leaders to draw inspiration from it.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "One does not proclaim the Gospel standing still, locked in an office, at one’s desk or at one’s computer, arguing like ‘keyboard warriors’ and replacing the creativity of proclamation with copy-and-paste ideas taken from here and there," said Pope Francis this morning addressing the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the customary Wednesday general audience.

Continuing his reflection on St Paul as an example in evangelisation, the Pontiff recalled how the apostle was not unaware of "the danger of a distorted zeal, oriented in the wrong direction; in this danger he himself had fallen before the providential fall on the road to Damascus".

Quoting a verse from the letter to the Galatians (Gal 4:17), Francis invited us to beware of "a misdirected zeal, bent on observing purely human and obsolete norms for the Christian community. One can boast of a false evangelical zeal while actually pursuing vainglory or one's own convictions'. 

The pope continued, "Evangelical zeal is the support on which proclamation is based, and heralds are somewhat like the feet of the body of Christ that is the Church. There is no proclamation without movement, without ‘going out’, without initiative. This mean there is no Christian if not on the move; no Christian if the Christian does not go out of themself in order to set out on the journey and bear the proclamation.'.

Paul speaks of zeal as a disciple's 'shoe', because 'he who goes out to proclaim must move, must walk'. And citing the analogy with armour in battle, it also becomes "the footing" even on the most treacherous terrain.

"A herald," the Pope commented, " is ready to go, and knows that the Lord passes by in a surprising way. He or she must therefore be free from schemes and prepared for an unexpected and new action: prepared for surprises. One who proclaims the Gospel cannot be fossilised in cages of plausibility or the idea that “it has always been done this way." He is ready "not to miss opportunities to promulgate the proclamation of the Gospel of peace, that peace that Christ knows how to give more and better than the world gives it". 

Greeting the groups of pilgrims present, the pontiff then recalled the 60th anniversary of the promulgation of John XXIII's encyclical "Pacem in Terris", which falls in these days.

"In the midst of the tension between the two opposing blocs in the so-called Cold War," said Francis, "the pope opened before everyone the broad horizon in which to speak of peace and build peace, God's plan for the world and the human family".

Inviting all the faithful to reread this very timely text, he quoted its number 114 in which Pope John wrote: "Relations between political communities, like those between individual human beings, are to be regulated not by recourse to the force of arms, but in the light of reason; that is, in truth, in justice, in working solidarity". "I pray that the leaders of nations will allow themselves to be inspired by this in their plans and decisions," added Francis, who also today did not fail to urge prayer "for the tormented Ukraine".

Finally - looking ahead to Divine Mercy Sunday, which will be celebrated next Sunday - he invited people to think "of God's mercy that always welcomes us and accompanies us".

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