“The first attitude of Christian identity is to walk, and to walk even if there are difficulties, to go over the difficulties.”
These are the words of Pope Francis this morning during Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
Celebrating the Memorial of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the patron saints of Europe, the Holy Father reflected on the identity of a disciple. The Holy Father recalled the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles which recounted Paul and Barnabas’ visit to Antioch. The Holy Father said that the Christian is above all sent. “This means that the Christian is a disciple of the Lord that walks, that always goes forward,” he said.
“We cannot imagine a Christian who is still: a Christian who remains still is sick in their Christian identity, they have some kind of sickness in that identity,” the Pope said. “The Christian is a disciple to walk, to go.
"We heard it in the Psalm at the end," he added, "in the farewell of the Lord: ‘Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel.’ Go. Walk. Behold, the first attitude of Christian identity is to walk, and to walk even if there are difficulties, to go over the difficulties.”
The first reading, as well as the Gospel, exhorts us to go out to announce the Word to all people, good and bad, the Pope continued. He went on to explain the second aspect of Christian identity, saying that a Christian must always remain a lamb.
“Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road,” Christ says to the 72 disciples in today’s Gospel.
“Like lambs...Don’t become wolves...Because, at times, temptation makes us think: ‘But this is difficult, these wolves are cunning and I will be even more cunning than them, eh? Lamb. Not a fool, but a lamb. Lamb. With Christian astuteness, but always a lamb. Because if you are a lamb, He defends you. But if you feel strong like a wolf, He does not defend you, He leaves you alone, and the wolves will eat you alive. Like a lamb.”
Reflecting on the final aspect of Christian identity, the Pope said that the “style” of the Christian is characterized by joy. “Christians are people who exult because they know the Lord and carry the Lord [with them].
“One cannot walk as a Christian without joy, one cannot walk as a lamb without joy,” the Holy Father said, adding that Christians who are constantly complaining and whining “are not doing any favors for the Lord or the Church.”
“This is not the style of the disciple,” he said.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to proclaim the Gospel with the true style of Christian, with joy. Proclaiming with sadness or a sense of bitterness, he said, makes us "live a so-called Christianity without Christ.” (J.A.E.)