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Monday, January 25, 2016

Angelus: the mission of the Christian community is to evangelise the poor

Vatican City, 25 January 2016 (VIS) – The evangelising activity of Jesus was the theme of Pope Francis' reflection in this Sunday's Angelus. The Holy Father explained to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Marian prayer that Christ was very different to the teachers of his time because, among other things, He did not open a school for the study of the Law, but instead "went about everywhere to preach and teach: in the synagogues, in the streets, in the houses. Jesus also differs from John the Baptist, who proclaims the imminent judgement of God, while Jesus proclaims the forgiveness of the Father".

Francis cites the Gospel of St. Luke, who narrates the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in the Synagogue of Nazareth, when Jesus stands to read the Holy Scripture and recites the passage "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor". Then, after a moment of expectant silence, He says, to general amazement: "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing".

"To evangelise the poor: this is the mission of Jesus, according to what He Himself says", affirmed the Pope. "This is also the mission of the Church, and of every person baptised in the Church. To be Christian and to be a missionary is the same thing. To proclaim the Gospel, with words, and, even before that, with one’s life, is the principle end of the Christian community and of each of its members. It is known that Jesus addresses the Good News to everyone, without excluding anyone; and yet, He privileges those who are furthest away, the suffering, the sick, those discarded by society. But let us ask ourselves a question. What does it mean to evangelise the poor? It means above all being close to them, having the joy of serving them, freeing them from oppression, and all this in the name of and with the Spirit of Christ, because He is the Gospel of God, He is the Mercy of God, He is the liberation of God. It is He Who was made poor in order to enrich us with His poverty. … The messianic proclamation of the Kingdom of God that has come amongst us is addressed in a preferential way to the marginalised, to prisoners, to the oppressed."

"Probably in the time of Jesus these people were not at the centre of the community of faith. And we can ask ourselves: today, in our parish communities, in the associations, in the movements, are we faithful to Christ's programme? Is the evangelisation of the poor, bringing them the good news, our priority? This is not about providing social assistance, much less about political activity. It is about the strength of the Gospel of God, Who converts hearts, heals the wounded, and transforms human and social relationships according to the logic of love. Indeed, the poor are at the centre of the Gospel".

The Pope concluded by asking that the Virgin Mary, "Mother of evangelisers", help us to "feel strongly the hunger and thirst for the Gospel that exists in the world, especially in the heart and the flesh of the poor" so that each one of us and every Christian community may "bear concrete witness to the mercy that Christ has given to us".

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