Vatican City, 8 July 2013 (VIS) – At midday, following the Holy Mass celebrated on the Day for seminarians, novices and those discerning their vocations, in the context of the Year of Faith, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Bishop of Rome appealed to all those present to pray for the participants in this Day, “that their love for Christ might mature more and more in their lives and that they might become true missionaries of God's Kingdom”, and then went on to comment on this Sunday's gospel, relating it to the call to the vocation.
“Jesus is not an isolated missionary”, he said; “he does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples. Today we see that, in addition to the Twelve Apostles, He calls seventy-two others, and sends them into the villages, two by two, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near. This is very beautiful! Jesus does not want to act alone, He has come to bring to the world the love of God and wants to spread that love with communion and fraternity. For this reason, he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and trains them for the mission”.
“Beware, however: the purpose is not to socialize, to spend time together – no, the purpose is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! There is no time to waste in small talk, no need to wait for the consent of all – it is necessary to go out and proclaim. The peace of Christ is to be brought to everyone, and if some do not welcome it, then you go on. Healing is to be brought to the sick, as God wishes to heal man from all evil. How many missionaries do this! They sow life, health, comfort in the peripheries of the world”.
“These seventy-two disciples, whom Jesus sent ahead of him, who are they? Whom do they represent? If the Twelve are the Apostles, and therefore also represent the Bishops, their successors, these may represent seventy-two other ordained ministers – priests and deacons – but in a wider sense we can think of other ministries in the Church, catechists and lay faithful who engage in parish missions, those who work with the sick, with the various forms of discomfort and alienation, but always as missionaries of the Gospel, with the urgency of the Kingdom that is at hand. Everyone must become missionaries, everyone can hear Jesus' call and go on to proclaim His kingdom!
“The Gospel says that those seventy-two returned from their mission full of joy, because they had experienced the power of the Name of Christ against evil. … We should not boast as if we were the protagonists: the protagonist is the Lord and His grace. Our joy is only this: in being His disciples, His friends. … Do not be afraid of being joyful! … It is the joy that the Lord gives us when we let Him enter into our lives and invite us to go forth into the peripheries of life and announce the Gospel, with joy and courage!”
After the Angelus, Pope Francis mentioned that two days ago his first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei” (On the Light of Faith) was published. Pope Benedict XVI had started this encyclical for the Year of Faith and to follow the previous encyclicals dedicated to love and hope. “I picked up this fine project and completed it. I offer it with joy to the whole People of God: indeed, today more than ever before, we need to return to the essentials of the Christian faith, to deepen it, and to measure current issues by it. I think that this encyclical, at least in some parts, can also be useful to those who are searching for God and for the meaning of life. I entrust it to the hands of Mary, the perfect icon of faith, that it may bring the fruits the Lord wishes”.
The Holy Father went on to greet the young people of the diocese of Rome who are preparing to go to Rio de Janeiro to participate in World Youth Day. “Dear young people, I too am preparing! Let us walk together towards this great celebration of faith! May Our Lady accompany us”.
Finally, he greeted the Franciscan Sisters and the Rosminian Angeline Sisters, who are holding their General Chapters, and the leaders of the Community of Sant'Egidio who have come to Rome from various countries to attend a training course.