VATICAN CITY — In his July 7 Angelus reflection, Pope Francis reminded those gathered in St. Peter’s Square that all of the faithful are called to be missionaries, spreading the Gospel message.
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel, he observed that “Jesus is not an isolated missionary, does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples.”
Not only does he call the 12 apostles, the Holy Father noted, but “he calls 72 others and sends them into the villages, two by two, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near.”
“This is very beautiful! Jesus does not want to act alone. He has come to bring to the world the love of God and wants to spread that love with a style of communion and fraternity. For this reason, he forms immediately a community of disciples, which is a missionary community.”
However, the Pope cautioned, “the purpose is not to socialize, to spend time together. No, the purpose is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! There is no time to waste in small talk, no need to wait for the consent of all; there is need only of going out and proclaiming.”
He pointed to the many missionaries who carry out this work of bringing Christ’s peace, healing and hope to remote areas of the world.
Observing that the Twelve Apostles represent the bishops, their successors, he reflected that the 72 disciples sent by Christ represent not only priests and deacons, but also “catechists and lay faithful who engage in parish missions, those who work with the sick, with the various forms of discomfort and alienation, but always as missionaries of the Gospel, with the urgency of the Kingdom that is at hand.”
He added that the missionaries in the Gospel returned full of joy “because they had experienced the power of the Name of Christ against evil.”
We must remember, however, that we are not the protagonists in mission work, but our joy is in the Lord and his grace, he added.
After the Angelus, the Pope offered some thoughts on Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), his new encyclical that was released Friday.
“For the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI had started this encyclical, which follows on from those on charity and hope,” he remarked. “I picked up this project, and I have finished it. I offer it with joy to the whole people of God.”
Pope Francis said that, “especially today, we need to go to the essentials of the Christian faith, to deepen it and to measure current issues by it.”
He added that the encyclical “can also be useful to those who are searching for God and for the meaning of life.”
“I put it in the hands of Mary, the perfect icon of faith, that it may bring in the fruits that the Lord wants.”
The Pope concluded his remarks by offering a special greeting to the youth of Rome who are preparing to travel to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day later this month, as well as to other religious groups gathered in Rome for meetings.