VATICAN - Pope Francis: the Church does not proclaim herself and the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the mission

Wednesday, 6 December 2023 pope francis   evangelization   mission   evangelii gaudium  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - The proclamation must take place "in the Holy Spirit", said Pope Francis, who at today's general audience continues the cycle of catechesis dedicated to the joy of the proclamation of the Gospel. An employee of the State Secretariat also spoke in his place today to avoid any signs of fatigue. Pope Francis outlined another essential feature of Christian proclamation that distinguishes the Church's mission from any form of political, cultural and religious propaganda: "To 'communicate to God,'" said the papal catechesis delivered to those in Paul VI Audience Hall was read out to gathered pilgrims and believers, "the joyful credibility of the testimony, the universality of the proclamation and the timeliness of the message are not enough. Without the Holy Spirit, all zeal is vain and falsely apostolic: it would only be our own and would not bear fruit".

Citing the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis recalled in today's catechesis that "Jesus is the first and greatest evangelizer"; that "in every activity of evangelization, the primacy always belongs to God", who "called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by the power of his Spirit".

"The Lord", continued the papal catechesis – compares the dynamism of the Kingdom of God to “a man who scatters seed upon the ground and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how”
For this reason - said the Bishop of Rome - The Holy Spirit "is the protagonist, he always precedes the missionaries and makes the fruit grow". This knowledge "comforts us a great deal! And it helps us to specify another, equally decisive: namely, that in her apostolic zeal the Church does not announce herself, but a grace, a gift, and the Holy Spirit is precisely the Gift of God, as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman".

The primacy of the Holy Spirit - added the papal catechesis - should not, however, induce us to indolence. The vitality of the seed that grows by itself "does not authorize farmers to neglect the field". In fact, the Lord "has not left us theological lecture notes or a pastoral manual to apply, but the Holy Spirit who inspires the mission. And the courageous initiative that the Spirit instils in us leads us to imitate his style, which always has two characteristics: creativity and simplicity". Creativity - continued Pope Francis' catechesis - is needed to "proclaim Jesus with joy, to everyone and today. In this age of ours, which does not help us have a religious outlook on life, and in which the proclamation has become in various places more difficult, arduous, apparently fruitless". A condition in which "the temptation to desist from pastoral service may arise. Perhaps one takes refuge in safety zones, like the habitual repetition of things one always does, or in the alluring calls of an intimist spirituality, or even in a misunderstood sense of the centrality of the liturgy. They are temptations" continued Pope Francis' catechesis "that disguise themselves as fidelity to tradition, but often, rather than responses to the Spirit, they are reactions to personal dissatisfactions. Instead, pastoral creativity, being bold in the Spirit, ardent in his missionary fire, is the proof of fidelity to Him".

Creativity, therefore; and then simplicity, precisely because the Spirit takes us to the source, to the “first proclamation”." This is the first proclamation, which must "be the centre of all evangelizing activity and all efforts at Church renewal".

The papal catechesis concluded with an invitation to allow ourselves to be "drawn by the Spirit" and "invoke him every day: may he be the source of our being and our work; may he be at the origin of every activity, encounter, meeting and proclamation. He enlivens and rejuvenates the Church: with him we must not fear, because he, who is harmony, always keeps creativity and simplicity together, inspires communion and sends out in mission, opens to diversity and leads back to unity. He is our strength, the breath of our proclamation, the source of apostolic zeal. Come, Holy Spirit!". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 6/12/2023)