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CALLED TO PROMOTE THE CULTURE OF ENCOUNTER

Vatican City, 28 July 2013 (VIS) – At 9.00 a.m. Yesterday the Cathedral of St Sebastian in Rio de Janeiro, whose stained glass windows, the work of Lorenz Hailmar, symbolise the four characteristics of the Church – One (green), Holy (red), Catholic (blue) and Apostolic (yellow) welcomed Pope Francis, who celebrated Mass with the bishops of World Youth Day, priests, religious and seminarians. The texts of the liturgy, inspired by the Year of Faith, were taken from the Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples. The Holy Father dedicated his homily to three aspects of the vocation: the call from God, the call to proclaim the Gospel, and the call to promote the culture of encounter.

With reference to the first, the call from God, the Pope said, “I believe it is important to revive in ourselves this fact that we so often take for granted amid the many tasks of our daily lives: 'You did not choose me but I chose you', says Jesus. We were called by God and we were called to be with Jesus. This living in Christ, in fact, marks all that we are and all that we do. This 'life in Christ' is precisely what ensures the effectiveness of our apostolate, that our service is fruitful. ... It is not creativity, pastoral though it may be, nor meetings and planning that ensure our fruitfulness, even if these are very helpful, but what ensures fruitfulness is our being faithful to Jesus. ... And we know well what that means: to contemplate Him, to worship Him, to embrace Him, especially through our faithfulness to a life of prayer, and in our daily encounter with Him, present in the Eucharist and in those most in need. “Being with” Christ does not mean isolating ourselves from others. Rather, it is a “being with” in order to go forth and encounter others. Here I would like to remind you of some words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: 'We must be very proud of our vocation because it gives us the opportunity to serve Christ in the poor. It is in the favelas, in the cantegriles, in the villas miseria, that one must go to seek and to serve Christ. We must go to them as the priest presents himself at the altar, with joy”.

To explain the second aspect, the call to proclaim the Gospel, the Pope commented that many of the bishops present in Rio had come to accompany young people to World Youth Day, and emphasised, “It is our responsibility as pastors to help kindle within their hearts the desire to be missionary disciples of Jesus. Certainly, this invitation could cause many to feel somewhat afraid, thinking that to be missionaries requires leaving their own homes and countries, family and friends. God asks us to be missionaries. Where? Where He Himself leads us, in our homeland or wherever He places us. Let us help the young. … They need to be listened to … I ask you this with all my heart! We must know how to spend time with them. Sowing the seeds takes effort, great effort! But reaping the harvest brings so much more satisfaction. … But Jesus asks us take seriously our work in sowing the seeds”.

“Let us spare no effort in the formation of our young people!” he added. “Help our young people to discover the courage and joy of faith ... Form them in mission, in going out and going forth. Jesus did this with His own disciples: he did not keep them under his wing like a hen with her chicks. He sent them out! We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, so that they may enter, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! Let us encourage the young to got out. Of course they will falter. Let us not be afraid! The Apostles faltered before us. Let us encourage them to go out. Let us look decisively to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church”.

The Holy Father concluded by referring to the third aspect, the call to promote the culture of encounter. “In many places, and in general in this economic humanism that has been imposed throughout the world, the culture of exclusion, a 'throwaway culture', is spreading”, he observed. “There is no place for the elderly or for the unwanted child; there is no time for that poor person in the street. At times, it seems that for some people, human relations are regulated by two modern 'dogmas': efficiency and pragmatism. … Have the courage to go against the tide, against this throwaway culture. Let us not reject this gift of God which is the one family of his children. Encountering and welcoming everyone, solidarity – a word which is hidden in our society, as if it were a bad word, solidarity, and fraternity: these are what make our society truly human. … Be servers of communion and of the culture of encounter! … And do so without being presumptuous, imposing 'our truths'. What must guide us is the humble yet joyful certainty of those who have been found, touched and transformed by the Truth who is Christ, ever to be proclaimed”.

Following Mass and after blessing those present, the Pope proceeded by Popemobile to the Municipal Theatre to meet with leading members of Brazilian society.

 

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