VATICAN - Pope Francis: Proclaiming the Gospel is transmitting "what one has received", not one's own ideas

Wednesday, 8 March 2023 pope francis   evangelization   mission   ii vatican council  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian faith is a "treasure" that "is received" and "transmitted" to others as it has been received, without wanting to add more, nor to rely on the "strength of one's ideas, programs, structures", and without giving in to the "worldly logic of figures and polls". This is why transmitting the gift of faith is an act which is "never solitary, never isolated, never individualistic", but a mission entrusted to the "people of God who are pilgrims and evangelizers", in which there is no active or passive subjects".
This is how Pope Francis, during the General Audience today, Wednesday, March 8, re-proposed some traits that always characterize all authentic apostolic work. Continuing the cycle of catechesis dedicated to the enthusiasm of evangelization and apostolic zeal in St. Peter's Square, the Bishop of Rome recalled the paths along which the Christian proclamation and the transmission of the faith pass, distinguishing them from what he described as "easy pesudo-ecclesial paths" proposed by those who want to "proceed alone", following their own opinions and not the path of the people of God.

The papal catechesis quotes a passage from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, in which he emphasizes that the gospel which he proclaimed and which the communities received and in which they remained steadfast, is the same that the Apostle had in turn received (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-3). "Whoever proclaims the Gospel," repeated the Pope, "always passes on what he or she has received". Even Saint Paul did not propose any assumptions or teachings of his own to the men and women of his day: "The gospel which he proclaimed and which the communities received and in which they persevered is the same as that which the apostle himself received. .. faith is received and faith is passed on", and "this ecclesial dynamism of the transmission of the Message is binding and guarantees the authenticity of Christian proclamation".
The "ecclesial dimension of evangelization," emphasized the Successor of Peter, "constitutes a criterion for confirmation of apostolic zeal" and is "a necessary confirmation, because the temptation of proceeding “alone” is always lurking", as is the temptation "to follow easier pseudo-ecclesial paths, to adopt the worldly logic of numbers and polls, to rely on the strength of our ideas, programmes, structures, “relationships that count”."

Pope Francis also related the ecclesiastical character of apostolic work to key passages of the Decree Ad Gentes (AG) of the Second Vatican Council, which is dedicated to the missionary activity of the Church. This document - the Pope recalled - reiterates that the source of all authentic apostolic work is not the ideas and enthusiasm of men, but "God’s love is not only for a little group, no … for everyone, no-one excluded". A love that "reaches every man and woman through the mission of Jesus, mediator of salvation and our redeemer and through the mission of the Holy Spirit, who works in everyone, both in the baptized and the non-baptized". "The Church, under the influence of the Holy Spirit", said the Bishop of Rome, quoting the Council Decree Ad Gentes, "is called to continue the mission of Christ, who was sent to preach the Gospel to the poor". And in carrying out this work, "in the pilgrim and evangelizing People of God, there are no active or passive individuals. There are not those who preach, those who proclaim the Gospel in one way or another, and those who remain silent, given that "all the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization", the Pontiff recalled, quoting a passage from the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.
For this reason, in missionary work - Pope Francis continued, quoting the sixth paragraph of the Decree Ad Gentes - the task of transmitting the faith remains "one and the same everywhere and in every condition, even though it may be carried out differently according to circumstances". This – added the Pope – invites us not to become rigid or fossilized". The missionary zeal of the believer "also expresses itself as a creative search for new ways of proclaiming and witnessing, new ways of encountering the wounded humanity that Christ took on. In short, of new ways of serving the Gospel and serving humanity - remarked the Pope, in one of his “spontaneous” additions to the written text, Evangelization is a service. If a person says that he is an evangelizer, and does not have that attitude, that servant’s heart, and believes himself to be a master, he is not an evangelizer, no … he is wretched". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 8/3/2023)