Pope: the mission is not for mavericks, it lives on fraternity
At the Angelus and the Mass for Rome’s DR Congolese community whose country he was supposed to be visiting today. Francis focused his thoughts on missionaries’ equipment, message and style. He issued a fresh appeal for peace in Ukraine and other countries. He said no to a world divided between conflicting powers, and yes to a united world in which peoples and civilisations respect each other.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus sends 72 disciples to preach in the villages, “two by two”, stressing that the mission is not something done alone.
In his address, the pontiff told the faithful in St Peter's Square that “The evangelising mission is not based on personal activism, but on the witness of fraternal love, also through the difficulties that living together entails”.
"The disciples are not ‘mavericks’, preachers unable to let others speak. The disciples’ very life proclaims the Gospel: their knowledge about how to be together, respect for each other, not wanting to show that they are more capable than others, the unanimous reference to the one Teacher.”
For Francis, “One can draft perfect pastoral plans, put in place well-made projects, organise oneself in the smallest details; once can summon crowds and have many means; but without fraternity, the evangelical mission cannot advance.”
On the Sunday when he was supposed to be busy on a trip to Africa, postponed due to health issues, Pope Francis first celebrated Mass in St Peter's Basilica together with Rome’s DR Congolese community. The pontiff was supposed to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo along with South Sudan.
In his homily, he dwelt on "three missionary surprises" Jesus reserved for his disciples. The first one concerns equipment. Jesus does not say what to carry, but focuses on what not to have.
"Often we think that our ecclesial initiatives do not work properly because we lack structures, money and means. That is not true. Jesus himself refutes that. Let us not trust riches nor fear our material and human poverty. The freer and simpler, the smaller and humbler we are, the more the Holy Spirit guides the mission and makes us protagonists of its wonders.”
Jesus also surprised the apostles with the message he entrusts them with, when he said: “Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household’.”
"Peace,” Francis said, “begins with us; from me and from you, from the heart of each one. If you live his peace, Jesus comes and your family, your society changes. They change if, first, your heart is not at war, if it is not armed with resentment and anger, if it is not divided, two-faced and false. Putting peace and order in one's heart, defusing greed, extinguishing hatred and resentment, fleeing corruption, cheating and cunning: this is where peace begins.”
The other surprise that Jesus entrusts to the apostles before sending them on mission is: “The Kingdom of God is at hand".
"Hope and conversion come from this: from believing that God is close and watches over us; he is the Father of all, the one who wants all of us to be brothers and sisters. If we live under this gaze, the world will be a garden of peace and no longer a battlefield; history will not be a race to get first, but a shared pilgrimage.”
Finally, the style of the mission is one in which we are “lambs in the midst of wolves”. This “does not mean being naïve”; rather it calls for “abhorring every instinct of supremacy and oppression, of greed and possession. Those who live like a lamb do not attack, they are not voracious; they are in the flock, with others, and find security in their shepherd, not in strength or arrogance, in greed for money and goods.”
As he does every Sunday, at the end of the Angelus, the pontiff turned his attention to war. “Let us continue to pray for peace in Ukraine and the whole world. I appeal to the leaders of countries and international organisations to counter the tendency of accentuating conflict and contrapositions. The world needs peace. Not a peace based on the balance of armaments, on mutual fear.
“The Ukrainian crisis can still become a challenge for wise statesmen, capable of building a better world through dialogue for the new generations. With God's help, this is always possible. But we must move from political, economic and military strategies of power to a global peace project: no to a world divided between conflicting powers, yes to a united world between peoples and civilisations that respect each other.”