Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 20 October 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The second reading of today’s liturgy offers us the exhortation that the Apostle Paul addresses to his faithful collaborator Timothy: “preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” (2 Tim 4:2). The tone is fervent: Timothy must feel he is in charge of proclaiming the Word.
World Missionary Day, which is being celebrated today, is a propitious occasion for every baptized person to be even more conscious of the need to cooperate in proclaiming the Word, in proclaiming the Kingdom of God with a renewed commitment. One hundred years ago, Pope Benedict XV promulgated the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud in order to give new impetus to the missionary responsibility of the entire Church. He cautioned about the need to evangelically re-qualify mission in the world, so that it would be cleansed of any colonial incrustation and freed from the conditioning of the expansionist policies of the European nations.
In today’s changed context, Benedict XV’s message is still timely and spurs us to overcome the temptation of all forms of self-referential withdrawal and of all forms of pastoral pessimism, in order to open ourselves up to the joyful newness of the Gospel. In our time, marked by a globalization that should be supportive and respectful of the particularities of peoples, and instead still suffers from homogenization and from age-old conflicts for power that fuel wars and destroy the planet, believers are called to take everywhere, with renewed passion, the Good News that in Jesus mercy conquers sin, hope conquers fear, fraternity conquers hostility. Christ is our peace and in him every division is overcome; in him alone lies the salvation of every person and every people.
To live mission in full there is an indispensable condition: prayer, fervent and unceasing prayer, according to Jesus’ teaching, also proclaimed in today’s Gospel, in which he recounted a parable on the need “always to pray and not lose heart” (Lk 18:1). Prayer is the first support of the People of God for missionaries, rich in affection and gratitude for their difficult task of proclaiming and offering the light and grace of the Gospel to those who have not yet received it. It is also a fine occasion to ask ourselves today: do I pray for missionaries? Do I pray for those who go afar to bear the Word of God through witness? Let us think about this.
May Mary, Mother of all people, accompany and protect the missionaries of the Gospel each day.
After the Angelus the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday in Crema, the martyr Fr Alfredo Cremonesi, missionary priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was proclaimed Blessed. Killed in Burma in 1953, he was a tireless apostle of peace and a zealous witness to the Gospel, until shedding his blood. May his example inspire us to be workers of fraternity and courageous missionaries in every environment; may his intercession sustain those who work hard today to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Let us all applaud Blessed Alfredo!
And now I offer a cordial welcome to all of you, pilgrims from Italy and from various countries. In particular I greet and bless with affection Rome’s Peruvian community, gathered here with the venerated Image of el Señor de los Milagros — ¡conserven siempre la fe y las tradiciones de su pueblo! –[Always preserve the faith and traditions of your people]; the Nursing Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows who have celebrated their General Chapter; participants in the Restiamo umani march, who in recent months have travelled through the cities and territories of Italy to promote a constructive discussion on the themes of inclusion and welcome. Thank you for this beautiful initiative!
I share a special thought with the Catholic Action youth who have come with their teachers from all the Italian dioceses on the occasion of the 50-year anniversary of ACR. Dear boys and girls, you are protagonists in evangelization, especially among your peers. The Church has confidence in you; go forth with joy and generosity!
I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci.
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