Pope Francis: A Christian must be open in announcing the Word

by FLL Editorial Team

(Vatican News) Concluding his cycle of Wednesday Catecheses dedicated to the apostolic zeal of the believer, Pope Francis emphasizes that every baptized person is called to witness and announce the Gospel to all peoples.

The passion for the proclamation of the Gospel “involves every Christian, from the beginning”, Pope Francis reiterated at his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, concluding his cycle of reflections on Christian apostolic zeal.

The Pope began the catechesis by inviting the faithful to reflect on the “Rite of the Ephphatha” performed during the Sacrament of Baptism.

He recalled that this rite comes from Jesus' miraculous healing of deaf and dumb man in Galilee.

Proclaiming God’s salvific and liberating presence to all

Pope Francis noted that, as recounted by Mark’s Gospel, that miracle was accomplished in territories then predominantly inhabited by pagans, not Jews. This, the Pope said, shows us that Jesus is able to open the ears and the mouths of those who can’t hear or speak, where deafness and muteness in the Bible signify metaphorically being closed to God’s call.

To be opened to witness the Gospel

Pope Francis then drew attention to another indicative sign in that episode: the decisive word ‘ephphatha’ Jesus uttered, which in Aramaic means, "Be opened". That word, he explained, is an invitation addressed not only to the deaf and dumb, who could not hear Him, but specifically to His disciples both of that time and of all times.

“We too, who have received the 'ephphatha' of the Spirit in Baptism”, said the Pope, “are called to be opened” because “the Gospel message needs you to bear witness to it and proclaim it!”

Witnesses not ideologues of closure

Pope Francis went on to note that this should also make us reflect on our attitude as Christians: “A Christian", he said, "must be open to the Word of God and to serving others. Closed Christians always end up badly, because they are not Christians, they are ideologues, ideologues of closure”, he added.

Let us feel called to be missionaries

Recalling that even at the end of the Gospels, Jesus entrusts us with His missionary desire, Pope Francis, therefore, reiterated his call to the faithful “to feel called, because of our baptism, to witness to and proclaim Jesus” and “ask for the grace to bring about a pastoral and missionary conversion".

“Each one of us," he concluded, "should ask him or herself: ‘Do I truly love the Lord to the point of wanting to announce Him? Do I want to become his witness or am I content to be his disciple? Do I take to heart the people I meet, bringing them to Jesus in prayer? Do I want to do something so that the joy of the Gospel, which has transformed my life, might make their lives more beautiful?’”

Christmas tree and nativity scene

Finally, just like last Wednesday, at the end of the General Audience, Pope Francis was driven through St. Peter's Square and the Arch of the Bells, to get a close look at the Christmas tree and nativity scene set up in the square, whose inauguration took place last Saturday.

Source: Pope Francis: Mission of proclaiming the Gospel involves every Christian