Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today when he received in audience thousands of members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, on the occasion of some 250 families from five continents being sent out to evangelize.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
I am happy to meet with you and I thank you, because you have come in such great numbers. A special greeting goes to those that are about to depart! You have received the call to evangelize: I bless the Lord for this, for the gift of the Way and for the gift of each one of you. I would like to underline three words that the Gospel has just consigned to you, as a mandate for the mission: unity, glory and world.
Unity. Jesus prays to the Father so that His own “may become perfectly one” (John 17:23); He wants them to “be one” (v. 22), as the Father and He <are one>. It is His last, most heartbroken request before His Passion: that there be communion in the Church. Communion is essential. The enemy of God and man, the devil, can do nothing against the Gospel, against the humble strength of prayer and of the Sacraments, but he can do much harm to the Church by tempting our humanity. He causes presumption, judgment on others, closures, divisions. He, himself, is “the divider” and he often begins by making us believe that we are good, perhaps better than others: thus the terrain is ready to sow darnel. It is the temptation of all communities and it can insinuate itself also in the most beautiful charisms of the Church.
You have received a great charism, for the baptismal renewal of life; one enters the Church, in fact, through Baptism. Every charism is a grace of God to enhance communion. However, a charism can deteriorate when it is closed or is boastful, when it wishes to be distinguished from others. Therefore, it is necessary to protect it. Protect your charism! How? By following the masterful way: humble and obedient unity. If this exists, the Holy Spirit continues to work, as He did in Mary, open, humble and obedient. It is always necessary to watch over the charism, purifying eventual human excesses through the search for unity with all and obedience to the Church. Thus one breathes in the Church and with the Church; thus you remain docile children of the “Holy, Hierarchical Mother Church,” with “the heart prepared and ready” for the mission (cf. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 353).
I stress this aspect: the Church is our Mother. Just as children bear on their face the imprint of their resemblance to their mother, so all of us resemble our Mother, the Church. After Baptism, we no longer live as isolated individuals, but we have become men and women of communion, called to be operators of communion in the world, because Jesus not only founded the Church for us, but He founded us as Church. The Church is not an instrument for us: we are the Church. We are reborn from her, she nourishes us with the bread of life, from her we receive the words of life; we are forgiven, and accompanied home.
This is the fecundity of the Church, which is Mother: it is not an organization that seeks followers, or a group that goes forward following the logic of its ideas, but she is a Mother that transmits the life received from Jesus.
This fecundity is expressed through the ministry and guidance of Pastors. In fact, the institution is also a charism, because it sinks its roots in the source itself, which is the Holy Spirit. He is the living water, but the water can only continue to give life if the plant is well looked after and pruned. Slake your thirst at the source of love, the Spirit, and take care, with delicacy and respect, of the whole ecclesial organism, especially of the more fragile parts, so that it can all grow together, harmonious and fecund.
Second word: glory. Before His Passion, Jesus announced that He would be “glorified” on the cross: His glory would appear there (cf. John 17:5). However, it is a new glory: worldly glory is manifested when one is important, admired, when one has goods and success. God’s glory is revealed, instead, on the cross: it is love, which shines there and spreads. It is a paradoxical glory: without noise, without profit, and without applause. But only this glory renders the Gospel fecund. Thus Mother Church is also fecund when she imitates the merciful love of God, which is proposed but not imposed. It is humble; it acts like rain on the earth, as the air that is breathed, like a small seed that bears fruit in silence. Whoever proclaims love can only do so with the same style of love.
And the third word that we heard was world. “God so loved the world” that He sent Jesus (cf. John 3:16). One who loves is not distant, but goes out to encounter. You will go and encounter so many cities, so many countries. God is not drawn by worldliness; in fact, He detests it, but He loves the world He created, and He loves His children as they are in the world, where they live, even if they are “distant.” Life will not be easy for you in distant countries, in other cultures, it will not be easy for you, but it is your mission. And you do this out of love, out of love for the Mother Church, for the unity of this fecund Mother; you do it so that the Church is Mother and fecund. Show to the children the tender gaze of the Father and consider the reality you encounter a gift. Familiarize yourselves with the cultures, the languages and the local usages, respecting them and recognizing the seeds of grace that the Spirit has already scattered. Sow the first proclamation without yielding to the temptation to transplant acquired models: “what is most beautiful, greatest, most attractive and at the same time more necessary” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 35). It is the Good News that must always return, otherwise the faith risks becoming a cold doctrine without life. To evangelize as families, then, living unity and simplicity, is already a proclamation of life, a beautiful testimony, for which I thank you very much. And I thank you in my name, but also in the name of the whole Church for this gesture of going, of going to the unknown and also to suffer. Because there will be suffering, but there will also be the joy of God’s glory, the glory that is on the Cross. I accompany you and encourage you, and I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. I remain here, but in my heart I come with you.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]