Pope Francis is urging altar servers to go out to be missionaries to the world.
Speaking to about 10,000 altar servers from three different continents tonight in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said, "Precisely because we are filled with the joy of being friends with Jesus Christ, faith draws us towards others, making us natural missionaries! "
The Holy Father began by thanking them for coming in such great numbers and braving the hot Roman sun during August. The young faithful came from countries including Austria, Germany, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Serbia and Italy, to participate in the international Pilgrimage to Rome held this week, Aug. 3-6, whose motto is "Here am I. Send me!"
Being close to Jesus and knowing him in the Eucharist through your service at the altar, Francis told them, "enables you to open yourselves to others, to journey together, to set demanding goals and to find the strength to achieve them."
To recognize that we are small and weak, all the while knowing that, with Jesus’ help, we can be strengthened and take up the challenge of life’s great journey in his company, he added, is a real source of joy.
Pope Francis recalled how the prophet Isaiah had his imperfections, but discovering the truth of God's strength, was able to be transformed. Francis reminded the young people how once Isaiah turned to God, He purified his intentions, forgave his sins, healed his heart and made him ready to take up the important task of bringing God’s word to his people.
"Isaiah realized that, by entrusting himself into the hands of the Lord, his whole existence would be transformed," the Pope said. "Isaiah was astonished to discover that it was God who made the first move; God is the one drawing close."
Pope Francis, off the cuff, told the altar servers never to forget that God always takes the first step with us, and draws close.
"Isaiah noticed that God’s actions were not impeded by his imperfections; it was God’s goodness alone that enabled him to take up the mission, transforming him into a totally new person and therefore one able to respond to the call of the Lord, saying, 'Here I am! Send me' (Is 6:8)," the Pontiff said.
"Like Isaiah, we too are invited to not remain closed in on ourselves, protecting our faith in an underground bunker to which we flee in difficult moments." Rather, he continued, "we are called to share the joy of knowing we are chosen and saved by God’s mercy, the joy of being witnesses to the fact that faith gives new direction to our steps, that it makes us free and strong so as to be ready and able for mission."
"How beautiful it is," the Holy Father highlighted, "to realize that faith brings us out of ourselves, out of our isolation."
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