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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Angelus with encouragement: Do not be afraid

At noon today in Rome, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.


Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In today's gospel (cf Mt 10:26-33), the Lord Jesus, after having called the disciples and sent them out on mission, instructs and prepares them to face the challenges and persecutions that they will encounter.  Going out on mission is not tourism, and Jesus admonishes his followers: You will be persecuted.  In this way, he encourages them: Do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed ... What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight ... And do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul (Mt 10:26-28).  They can only kill the body, they have no power to kill the soul: do not be afraid of them.  Jesus' commission to go out on mission does not guarantee success for his disciples, nor does he shelter them from failure or from suffering.  They must be aware of the possibility of rejection and persecution.  This might scare them a bit, but it is the truth.

The disciple is called to conform his life to the life of Christ, who was persecuted by men, rejected, abandoned and put to death on a cross.  There is no Christian mission in the name of tranquility!  Difficulties and tribulations are part of the work of evangelization, and we are called to find in them, occasions to verify the authenticity of our faith and our relationship with Jesus.  We must consider these difficulties as the possibility for being even more missionary and for strengthening our trust in God, our Father, who never abandons his children in their time of trial.  In the midst of the difficulties of bearing Christian witness in the world, we are never forgotten; rather, we are always assisted by the Father's thoughtful solicitude.  For this reason, in today's gospel, Jesus reassures his disciples by repeating three times: Do not be afraid!

Even in our times, brothers and sisters, Christians are persecuted.  We pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, and we praise God because, despite this truth, they courageously continue to bear witness and to demonstrate faithfulness to their faith.  Their example helps us not to hesitate, but to take positions in favour of Christ, courageously bearing witness in everyday situations, even in seemingly peaceful contexts.  In effect, one form of proof can also be the absence of hostility and tribulations.  In addition to sheep among wolves, even in our time, the Lord sends us out as sentinels in the midst of people who do not want to be awakened by worldly troubles, who ignore the gospel's word of truth, constructing their own passing truths.  And if we go out into these contexts or live in the midst of them and speak the Word of the gospel, people will be bothered by us and will not accept us.

But in all of this, the Lord continues to say to us, as he said to the disciples of his time: Do not be afraid!  Let us not forget this word: at all times, when we face such tribulations, such persecutions, some situations that cause us to suffer, let us listen to the voice of Jesus in our hearts: Don't be afraid!  Don't be afraid, keep going!  I am with you.  Don't be afraid of those who deride you and mistreat you, and don't be afraid of those who ignore you, or those who honour you to your face but fight against the gospel behind your back.  There are many people who smile at us but who will deny the gospel's truth when we are not looking.  We all know such people.  Jesus does not leave us alone because we are precious to him.  This is the reason why he does not leave us alone: every one of us is precious to Jesus, and He accompanies us.

May the Virgin Mary, a model of humility and courageous faithfulness to the Word of God, help us to understand that in bearing witness to our faith, it is not a matter of counting our successes, but faithfulness, faithfulness to Christ, recognizing in whatever circumstance, even the most troubling ones, the inestimable gift of being his missionary disciples.



At the conclusion of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I express my closeness to the people of the Chinese village of Xinmo who were struck yesterday morning by a mudslide caused by heavy rains.  I am praying for all those who have died and for those who have lost their homes.  May God comfort their families and support all those who are trying to help.  You are very close to me!

Today in Vilnius (Lithuania), the Bishop Teofilo Matulionis is being proclaimed Blessed.  He was killed because of hatred for the faith in 1962, at the age of 90 years.  Let us give praise to God for the witness of this strenuous defender of the faith and of human dignity.  Let us greet him and all Lithuanians with our applause.

I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims!  In particular, I greet the Major Archbishop, the Bishops, the priests and the faithful of the Greek-Ukrainian Catholic Church, as well as the pilgrims from Bielorussia, who are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Josaphat.  I am spiritually united to the Divine Liturgy which will soon be celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Peter, asking the Lord to grant us all the courage of Christian witness and the gift of peace for the beloved country of Ukraine.



I greet the ministers from Komorrow (Poland) and all the Polish faithful, with a special thought also for the pilgrims gathered at the Shrine of the Mother of God in Gietrwałd.  I greet the Chilean faithful from Santiago (Chile), Rancagua and Copiapó, and also those from Montpellier and from Corsica.  I greet the recently-Confirmed children from Tombolo and the pilgrimage from the Order of Minors of Saint Francis of Paola.

I wish you all a good Sunday and, please don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!
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