In preaching, the Church’s message must always be spoken with frankness and courage, without fear of announcing the truth.
These were the words of Pope Francis in his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father reflected on today’s first reading in which Peter and John who continued to preach despite being jailed and threatened by the High Priests.
“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal,” the disciples prayed in the reading. That same courage, the Holy Father noted, is what the Church needs to announce the Good News.
“And today too, the Church’s message is the message of the path of openness, the path of Christian courage,” he said.
“These two simple [men]- as the Bible says – with no education, had courage. A word that can be translated as ‘courage,’ ‘straightforwardness,’ ‘freedom to speak,’ ‘not being afraid to say things’ … It’s a word that has many meanings, in its original form. Parrésia, that frankness … and their fear gave way to ‘openness,’ to saying things with freedom.”
The Holy Father’s words on speaking out with openness and without fear come on the heels of criticism by the government of Turkey following the Pope’s recognition of the events of 1915 as a genocide during his remarks to the Armenian faithful yesterday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Courage is a Grace
The Pope also reflected on today’s Gospel, which recounted the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, in which Christ speaks of one being “born again.”
“Unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit,” Jesus says. The Holy Father said that even in this story, the courage to proclaim the truth comes from the Holy Spirit.
“And this courage of proclamation is what distinguishes us from simple proselytism. We do not advertise Jesus Christ, to have more ‘members’ in our ‘spiritual society’, no? This is not necessary. There’s no need; it’s not Christian. What the Christian does is to announce with courage, and the proclamation of Jesus Christ causes, through the Holy Spirit, that astonishment that keeps us going.”
Jesus’ words on being “born again”, he continued, means that it is only through the Holy Spirit that one can truly change.
“The path of Christian courage is a grace given by the Holy Spirit. There are so many paths that we can take that also give us a certain amount of courage. ‘But look at that brave decision he has taken! And look at this one: look how he laid out this plan well, organized things, [bravo]!’ This helps, but it is an instrument of something bigger: the Spirit. If there is no Spirit, we can do many things, much work, but it is not of any use.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to prepare to receive the Holy Spirit during the Easter time leading to Pentecost. He also prayed that they may “ask for the grace to receive the Spirit to give us the true courage to announce Jesus Christ.”