Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Pope: Inclusive Word of God, Open-Hearted Church

On God’s Word Sunday, Francis recalls the urgency of proclamation, the need to profess “a God with a broad heart”,…

By Editorial , in Latest , at January 23, 2023

On God’s Word Sunday, Francis recalls the urgency of proclamation, the need to profess “a God with a broad heart”, to get those who meet on the boat of Peter because this is the Word of God, “it is not proselytism ”. Finally, in front of 5,000 faithful in the Basilica, he confers the ministry on 3 new lectors and 7 new catechists.

A Word that is light, relief for the tired heart, a gift that sprouts spontaneously, a sword that penetrates life putting us in crisis and thus directs and transforms. A Word that cannot be silenced but must be witnessed, giving it “flesh” to caress that of those who suffer. In the Vatican Basilica, the Pope offers an intense reflection on the Sunday of the Word of God which he himself instituted in September 2019 with the Motu Proprio Aperuit illis. The images Francis uses are clear and evocative to remind us that the proclamation of the Gospel is still urgent today, that the Word “is not crystallized in abstract and static formulas, but knows a dynamic history” and that above all it is for everyone, because salvation is for everyone. (Listen to the service in the Pope’s voice)

May we not profess a broad-hearted God and be a narrow-hearted Church; this would be – I allow myself to say – a curse: to profess a God with a broad heart and to be a church with a narrow heart. Let it not happen that we preach salvation for all and make the way to welcome it impracticable; let it not happen that we know we are called to bring the announcement of the Kingdom and neglect the Word, scattering ourselves in so many secondary activities, or so many secondary discussions.

Jesus “Trespasses” to Announce to Everyone

There are three directions that Francis indicates, three roads to travel, a path in following Jesus who was not “a static teacher, a seated doctor” but an “itinerant and pilgrim”, “messenger announcing the good news of the love of God”. A love for everyone, for “a people immersed in darkness: foreigners, pagans, women and men of various regions and cultures”.

And so Jesus “widens the borders”: the Word of God, which heals and raises up, is not intended only for the righteous of Israel, but for everyone, for everyone; he wants to reach the far away, he wants to heal the sick, he wants to save sinners, he wants to gather the lost sheep and relieve those whose hearts are weary and oppressed. In short, Jesus “crosses over” to tell us that God’s mercy is for everyone.

Put Yourself Under The Word of God

“God’s closeness – the Pope affirms – is not neutral, his presence does not leave things as they are, it does not defend a quiet life”. Here is the change that generates the Word, it is conversion – the other path indicated by Francis – in fact the Word “puts us into crisis”, because it is sharp like a sword that penetrates life, “making us discern feelings and thoughts of the heart” . Enter us, transforming us and directing our lives towards the Lord.

Here is Jesus’ invitation: God has made himself close to you, so become aware of his presence, make room for his Word and you will change your gaze on your life. I would also like to say it this way: put your life under the Word of God. This is the path that the Church has shown us: everyone, even the Pastors of the Church, is under the authority of the Word of God. Not under our tastes, our tendencies or preferences, but under the one Word of God which molds us, converts us and asks us to be united in the one Church of Christ.

Fishers of Men

Open to all, capable of converting and shaking, the Word cannot be silenced. Recalling Simon and Andrew who become fishers of men, the Pope underlines that the mission is to bring “the consolation of the Word, the disruptive announcement of God who transforms life, the joy of knowing that He is Father and addresses everyone ”. Word that becomes flesh capable of caressing “the flesh of those who suffer”.

The dynamism of the Word: it draws us into the “net” of the Father’s love and makes us apostles who feel the uncontrollable desire to get everyone they meet on the boat of the Kingdom. This is not proselytism because what he calls is the Word of God, not our word.

“Thanks to Those Who Spread The Word”

Francis thanks those who work hard to put the Word of God back at the center especially the 3 new readers, from the United Kingdom, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the 7 catechists: 3 Italians, 2 Filipinos, one from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and another from Mexico. He confers the ministry on them, emphasizing that in proclaiming the Word this must also speak to themselves. Francis invites us to cultivate prayer and to bear witness to the Gospel with our lives. One by one, in front of the Pope, the readers receive the Sacred Scriptures by accepting Francis’ invitation to faithfully transmit the Word of God so that it bears fruit in the hearts of men. The catechists, who are given a crucifix, are then blessed in their ministry which, the Pope underlines, must be animated by true apostolic enthusiasm.

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