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Holy See

Angelus Address: On the Mission of the Church to Proclaim the Gospel to All Peoples

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today’s evangelical page (Cf. Luke 10:1-12.17-20) presents Jesus, who sends seventy-two disciples on mission, in addition to the twelve Apostles. The number seventy-two probably indicates all nations. In fact, in the Book of Genesis seventy-two different nations are mentioned (Cf. 10:1-32). Thus, this sending prefigures the Church’s mission to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples. Jesus says to those disciples: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (v. 2).

This request of Jesus is always valid. We must always pray the “Lord of the harvest,” namely God the Father, to send labourers to work in His field, which is the world. And each one of us must do so with an open heart, with a missionary attitude. Our prayer must not be limited only to our needs, to our necessities: a prayer is truly Christian if it also has a universal dimension.

In sending the seventy-two disciples, Jesus gives them precise instructions, which express the mission’s characteristics. The first — we have already seen — to pray; the second: to go; and then: to carry no purse, no bag . . .; say: “Peace be to this house” . . . remain in the same house . . . Do not go from house to house . . . . Heal the sick and say to them: “The Kingdom of God has come near to you,” and if they do not receive you, go into the streets and take your leave (Cf. vv. 2-10). These imperatives show that the mission is based on prayer; that it’s itinerant: it’s not stationery, it’s itinerant; that it requires detachment and poverty; that it brings peace and healing, signs of the closeness of the Kingdom of God, which isn’t proselytism but proclamation and witness, and which also requires frankness and the evangelical freedom to leave, evidencing the responsibility of having rejected the message of salvation, but without condemnations or curses.

If lived in these terms, the Church’s mission will be characterized by joy: “The seventy-two returned full of joy” (v. 17), notes the evangelist. It’s not an ephemeral joy, which springs from the success of the mission. On the contrary, it’s a joy rooted in the promise that — Jesus says — “your names are written in Heaven” (v. 20). With this expression He means the interior and indestructible joy that is born of the awareness of having been called by God to follow His Son, namely, the joy of being His disciples. Today, for instance, each one of us, here in the Square, can think of the name we received on the day of our Baptism: that name is “written in Heaven,” in God the Father’s Heart. And it’s the joy of this gift that makes a missionary of every disciple, one who walks in the company of the Lord Jesus, who learns from Him to spend himself without reservations for others, free from himself and from his possessions.

Let us invoke the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, that She may sustain the Mission of Christ’s disciples everywhere; the mission to proclaim to all that God loves us, He wants to save us and calls us to form part of His Kingdom.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

After the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Even though several days have passed, I invite you to pray for the poor helpless people killed or wounded in the air attack that struck a migrants’ detention centre in Libya. The International Community cannot tolerate such grave events. I pray for the victims: may the God of peace take the deceased to Himself and sustain the wounded. I hope that humanitarian corridors for the neediest migrants are organized in an extended and concerted way. I also remember the victims of the massacres carried out recently in Afghanistan, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Let us pray together.

[Moment of silence]

A warm greeting goes to all of you, Romans and pilgrims! I greet the students of the “Saint Ignatius School of Cleveland (the United States), the young people of Basiasco and Mairago, and the priests taking part in the course of formation organized by the “Sacerdos” Institute of Rome. I greet the Eritrean community in Rome; dear brothers and sisters, I pray for your people. And I greet the many Poles who are in front here!

I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
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