Rome (Agenzia Fides) - Jesus is "a Person", not an idea; a "traveling companion", not "a program". An encounter with Jesus always brings you joy, and if this does not happen to you, it is not a true encounter with Jesus" And this is possible even for those immersed "in today’s fast-pace and confused environment". Precisely our time, that of "programmed unbelief and institutionalized secularity" is "the right moment for the proclamation of Jesus". In the catechesis during today's general Audience, Wednesday, November 15, Pope Francis once again suggested the key features and elementary dynamics that characterize every authentic apostolic work. He did so by opening a new phase of the cycle of catechesis dedicated to the passion for the proclamation of the Gospel and apostolic zeal.
The long cycle of catecheses - the Pope explained to the multitude gathered in St. Peter’s Square - will find its final synthesis in the re-proposal of "four points, inspired by the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, whose tenth anniversary we celebrate this month".
The first of the four points announced by Pope Francis concerned joy, which he proposed again as "the attitude on which the substance of the evangelizing gesture depends". The Christian message - explained the Bishop of Rome - "is the proclamation of “a great joy” ". Which coincides not with "good news, a surprise, a beautiful event", but with the very person of Jesus: "Jesus is joy. He is the God made man who came to us". Faced with this fact – continued the Pope – the question "is therefore not whether to proclaim it, but how to proclaim it, and this “how” is joy. Either we proclaim Jesus with joy, or we do not proclaim him, because another way of proclaiming him is not capable of bringing the true reality of Jesus".
Free and overflowing joy is like the litmus test of every true encounter with Jesus. This is why - continued the Successor of Peter - "a Christian who is discontented, a sad Christian, a dissatisfied, or worse still, resentful or rancorous Christian, is not credible. This person will talk about Jesus but no-one will believe him". All authentic evangelization "works freely, because it comes from fullness, not from pressure". And when evangelization programs are organized not for the free gift of the encounter with Christ but "on the basis of ideologies", the Pontiff clarified, "this is not evangelizing, this is not the Gospel. The Gospel is not an ideology: the Gospel is a proclamation, a proclamation of joy". To offer an image of the gratuitous dynamic of the Christian announcement, Pope Francis re-proposed the evangelical episode of the meeting of the Risen Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus and with the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle, who "could not believe their joy". Precisely those encounters of the risen Christ with him - the Pontiff noted - suggest that "the first to need to be evangelized are the disciples. The first who to need to be evangelized are us: we Christians".
Immersed in today’s fast-pace and confused environment - continued Pope Francis - believers in Christ may find ourselves living the faith with a subtle sense of renunciation, convinced that the Gospel is no longer listened to and that it is no longer worth committing to proclaiming it. We might even be tempted by the idea of letting “others” go their own way. Instead", warned the Pontiff, quoting an expression from Evangelii gaudium, "this is precisely the time to return to the Gospel to discover that Christ “is forever young, he is forever a constant source of newness'". Thus, like the two at Emmaus – recalled the Pope, implicitly referring to those who complain and are saddened by difficult and bad times - "one returns to daily life with the enthusiasm of one who has found treasure: they were joyful, those two, because they had found Jesus, and he changed their life. And one discovers that humanity abounds with brothers and sisters waiting for a word of hope" As happened then - continued the Pontiff - "The Gospel is awaited even today. People of today are like people of all times: they need it. Even the civilization of programmed unbelief and institutionalized secularity; indeed, especially the society that leaves the spaces of religious meaning deserted, needs Jesus. This is the right moment for the proclamation of Jesus". Pope Francis concluded the catechesis with a short prayer: “Each one of you” said the Pope, “take a little time and think: “Jesus, you are within me. I want to encounter you every day. You are a Person, you are not an idea; you are a travelling companion, you are not a programme. You, Jesus, are the source of joy. You are the beginning of evangelization. You, Jesus, are the source of joy!”. Amen". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 15/11/2023)