VATICAN CITY -- At his weekly general audience on Sept. 17, Pope Francis spoke about what it means to evangelize, calling it apostolic work born of an encounter with Christ, rather than lifeless efforts from the self-appointed “elect.”
He also asked for prayers for his upcoming trip to Albania on Sept. 21, saying that his choice to visit the country was because of the suffering endured on account of “a terrible atheist regime and is now realizing peaceful coexistence among its various religious components.”
Earlier in the morning, Pope Francis offered catechesis to those gathered in the square, reflecting on the words “catholicity” and “apostolic.”
The Church, the Pope said, shows her “catholicity,” or “universality,” by speaking all languages, which is the effect of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit gave to the apostles and the whole Church the gift of proclaiming the good news of God's salvation and love to all, even to the ends of the earth.”
The Church is also, by its nature missionary, “given to evangelization and encounter,” in other words, apostolic.
In off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis noted how, today, the Gospel is available in every language. For this reason, he said, it is a good habit to carry a copy of the Gospel with us in our pockets or purses to read throughout the day.
“The Gospel is available in every language,” he said, “because the Church, the message of Jesus Christ redeemer, is in all the world.” This is why one can say that the Church is Catholic and universal.
To say that the Church is born Catholic, the Pope said, is to say that it is “born to go out”; it is “born missionary.”
Had the apostles remained in the Upper Room, without going out to proclaim the Gospel, he continued, the Church would have consisted solely of the people in that city, of those in the Upper Room.
“But they all went out to the world,” he said, “from the moment of the Church's birth, from the moment in which the Holy Spirit came." And for this reason, the Church was born “in going out” is a missionary spirit.
Pope Francis added that those of us living today are in “continuity” with the apostles, who went out after having received the Holy Spirit.
The Church's call to proclaim the Gospel, showing the “tenderness and power of God,” the Pope continued, “flows from Pentecost.”
He also warned against sentiments of those Christians who see themselves as being among the “elect,” saying that they die, first in spirit then in body. “Such people do not have life,” he said, nor do they “have the capacity to generate life. ... They are not apostles.”
Rather, he said, “the Spirit compels us to encounter our brothers and sisters, even those most distant from us in every way, to share with them the love, peace and joy of the risen Lord.”