Pope Francis has highlighted three needed characteristics of the Church: to be on her feet, listen to the ‘restlessness’ of the people, and be joyful.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis underscored this today, May 4, 2017, during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
The Pope’s homily noted how in the first eight chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope said, “there is a summary of the whole history of the Church,” including preaching, baptism, conversion, miracles, persecution, joy, but also the “ugly sin of those who join themselves to the Church for their own ends.
Drawing inspiration from today’s readings, Francis first emphasized that from the beginning, the Lord accompanied His disciples. With miraculous signs, He confirmed the Word, Francis said, pointing out that even in the worst of moments, He never left them alone.
“Get up and go,” “Listen to the Restlessness”
Pope Francis then focused on three phrases taken from the reading, the first being the angel’s words to Philip: “Get up and go.”
Noting that this is a sign of evangelization, Francis reminded that the “vocation” and “great consolation of the Church” is to evangelize.
“But in order to evangelize: ‘Get up and go!’ One doesn’t say: ‘Stay seated, calm, in your house’: No! In order to be faithful to the Lord, the Church should always be on its feet and on the journey: ‘Get up and go.’ A Church that does not rise up, that is not on the journey, is sick.”
Noting that this can cause the Church to be closed in on itself, even into “a little world of gossiping, of things… closed, without horizons,” he stressed, the Church must “get up and go.”
“Go up and join with that chariot,”
The next expression Pope Francis noted was the second message Philip received from the Spirit: “Go up and join with that chariot.”
In the chariot was an Ethiopian, a proselyte of the Jewish religion, a eunuch who had come to Jerusalem to worship God. As he travelled, he was reading the prophet Isaiah, a passage concerned with the conversion of a “finance minister.” Philip was called by the Spirit called to join himself to that man, Francis highlighted, to emphasize how important it was for the Church to know she must listen to the restlessness in the heart of every man.
“All men, all women have a restlessness in their hearts – they may be good or bad, but there is a restlessness. Listen to that restlessness,” Francis observed. “It’s not saying: ‘Go out and proselytise.’ No, no! ‘Go and listen.’ Listening is the second step. The first: ‘Get up and go’; the second: ‘Listen.’
“That ability to listen: What do people feel? What does the heart of the people feel? What does it think? But do they think mistaken things? But I want to hear these mistaken things, in order to understand where the restlessness is. We all have this restlessness within.”
Therefore, the second step for the Church, Francis reiterated, “is to find the restlessness of the people.”
It is, then, the Ethiopian himself who, seeing Philip approach, asks who the prophet is speaking about, and asks him to join him in the chariot. And so, the Pope said, Philip began to preach “with meekness.” The restlessness in the heart of that man found an explanation that responded to the hope in his heart.
This was possible, Pope Francis continued, “because Philip joined him and listened to him.”
Joy of the Christian
This “joy of the Christian,” Pope Francis said, is the third “word” or “expression” from the reading.
While the Ethiopian listened, the Jesuit Pope explained, the Lord was working within him. In this way, the man understood that the Prophet Isaiah was speaking of Jesus.
His faith in Jesus then grew to such a point that when they arrived at a place where there was water, he asked to be baptized. “He asked for Baptism because the Lord had worked in his heart,” the Pope said. After he had been baptized, when the Spirit took Philip and bore him away, the eunuch continued on his way, filled with joy, the Pope noted.
Pope Francis concluded his homily, praying, “May the Lord give to all of us the grace to live the Church in this way: on our feet and going out, listening to the restlessness of the people, and always in joy.”