Have courage! Embrace your mission.
Pope Francis stressed this during his Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square, as he reflected on today’s readings, especially St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy, in which he encourages his disciple to remember that as Christians we are called to set out and evangelize.
Francis observed how St. Paul’s autobiographical account today is timely, given that today is World Mission Sunday, with the theme “Missionary Church, a witness of mercy.”
In Paul, the Jesuit Pope pointed out, Christians find a model for seeing that it is the presence of the Lord that makes apostolic and evangelical work effective. Francis stressed that Paul’s experiences remind us how we are to engage in pastoral and missionary activities.
Courage to Fight, Even If Don’t Win
On the one hand, Francis encouraged, we should engage in them “as if the result depended on our efforts, with the spirit of sacrifice of an athlete who does not stop, even in the face of defeats,” and on the other, “knowing that the true success of our mission is a gift of grace: it is the Holy Spirit who makes the Church’s mission in the world effective.”
“Today is a time of mission and a time of courage!” he stressed.
The Holy Father reminded those present that courage is required of us Christians, in a variety of ways, including that “to strengthen the tottering steps, to commit ourselves to the Gospel, “to regain confidence in the strength that mission brings,” and that which tries even without “having a guarantee of success.”
“We are to have a courage to fight, not necessarily to win,” he said, and also “to not always conform to the ways of the world,” but in a way “that is never argumentative or aggressive.”
In addition, he noted, we are to have the courage “to be open to all, to stand up to disbelief, and call on God to be merciful on us as sinners.
“Today, is time of courage!” Francis exclaimed. “Today, we must have courage!”
The Pope also prayed that Mary, model of the ‘outgoing’ Church, help us be missionary disciples “who bring the message of salvation to the whole human family.”
‘Left Crying, Without Words’ … an Appeal for Iraq
After reciting the midday prayer, Francis turned to the tragic events in Iraq, saying he is especially close to the nation’s suffering people, especially those of the city of Mosul.
“Our minds are shaken by the heinous acts of violence that for too much time have been committed against innocent citizens, both Muslims and Christians, and also all those of other ethnicities and religions,” he said, noting, “I was saddened to hear news of the killing in cold blood of many, including many children.”
“This cruelty,” Francis said, “makes us cry, leaving us without words.” The word of solidarity accompanies the assurance of my remembrance in prayer, to Iraq, while suffering, both strong and steadfast in hope to be able to move towards a future of security, of reconciliation and peace.
The Holy Father then asked the some 50,000 pilgrims in the Square to join him in praying in silence, and then in reciting a Hail Mary.
After this appeal, Pope Francis greeted the various groups present including those in Rome for the Jubilee of Choirs and all the Poles in Rome and in Poland celebrating the 1050th Anniversary of Christianity in Poland.
As usual, Pope Francis wished those present a good Sunday, good lunch, and asking those present to pray for him.