First of all I would like to share with you the joy of having met, yesterday and today, a special group of pilgrims of the Year of Faith. It was made up of seminarians and novices. I ask you to pray for them that the love for Christ grow more and more in their life and they become true missionaries of the Kingdom of God.
The Gospel of this Sunday (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20) speaks to us precisely of this: the fact that Jesus is not an isolated missionary, he does not wish to carry out his mission alone, but involves his disciples. And today we see that, besides the 12 disciples, he calls another 72, and he sends them to the villages, 2 by 2, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near.
This is so beautiful! Jesus does not want to work alone, he has come to bring God’s love into the world and wants to spread it in communion (“con lo stile della comunione”), in fraternity (“con lo stile della fraternità”). Because of this he immediately forms a community of disciples, which is a missionary community. Immediately he teaches them to be missionaries, to go out.
But, look, the purpose here is not to socialize, to spend time together, no, the purpose is to announce the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! And it is urgent today too! There is no time to lose with small talk, we do need to wait for everyone to agree, we need to go out and announce. The peace of Christ is brought to everyone, and if they do not accept it, we go forward just the same. Healing is brought to the sick because God wants to heal man of every evil. There are so many missionaries that do this! They sow life, health, comfort at the margins of the world. How beautiful this is! They do not live for themselves but to go out and do good! There are so many young people in the piazza today: think about this, ask yourselves: Is Jesus asking me to go out, to leave myself behind and do good? I ask you, young people, you young men and women: Are you brave enough for this, do you have the courage to listen to Jesus’ voice? It is beautiful to missionaries! ... Ah, you’re great! I like this!
These 72 disciples that Jesus sent out ahead of him, who are they? Who do they represent? If the 12 are the Apostles, and so also represent the Bishops, their successors, these 72 may represent the other ordained ministries, priests and deacons; but in a larger sense of the other ministries of the Church, of the catechists, of the lay faithful that work in parish missions, who work with the sick, with those who are disadvantaged and marginalized; but always as missionaries of the Gospel, with the urgency of the Kingdom that is near. Everyone must be missionaries, everyone can hear that call of Jesus and go out and announce the Kingdom!
The Gospel says that those 72 came back from their missions filled with joy, because they experienced the power of the Name of Christ against evil. Jesus confirms it: to these disciples Jesus gives the power to conquer demons. But he adds: “Do not rejoice, however, because the demons submit to you; rejoice instead because your names are written in heaven” (Luke10:20). Do not boast as if we were the protagonists: there is only one protagonist: it is the Lord! The Lord’s grace is the protagonist! He is the only protagonist! And this alone is our joy: to be his disciples, his friends. May Our Lady help us to be good workers for the Gospel.
Dear friends, joy! Do not be afraid to be joyful! Do not be afraid of joy! That joy that the Lord gives us when we let him into our life, let us allow him to enter in our life and invite us to go out of ourselves to the margins of life and announce the Gospel. Do not be afraid of joy. Joy and courage!
[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:]
Dear brothers and sisters,
As you know, 2 days ago the encyclical letter on the topic of faith was published with the title “Lumen fidei,” the light of faith. Pope Benedict XVI began this encyclical for the Year of Faith. It follows his encyclicals on charity and hope. I took up this great labor and concluded it. I offer it with joy to the whole People of God: in fact, today we all need to go to the essence of the Christian faith, to study it and bring it to bear on contemporary issues. But I think that this encyclical, at least in some parts, can be useful also to those who seek God and the meaning of life. I place it in the hands of Mary, the perfect icon of faith, that it may bear that fruit that the Lord wants.
I offer my cordial greeting to all of you, dear faithful of Rome and pilgrims. I greet in particular the young people of the Diocese of Rome who are preparing to leave for Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. Dear young people, I too am preparing! Let us walk together toward this great feast of faith; may Our Lady accompany us and we’ll see each other down there!
I greet the Rosminian Sisters and the Francescane Angeline Sisters, who are conducting their general chapters; and the leaders of the Community of Sant'Egidio who have come from various countries for the course of formation. A wish you all a good Sunday! Have a good lunch! Goodbye!
[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]