By Robin Gomes
“Only a Church that renounces the world announces the Lord well. Only a Church free from power and money, free from triumphalism and clericalism, testifies in a credible way that Christ liberates man.” Pope Francis made exhortation to a rally of some 150,000 representatives of the Neocatechumenal Way from 135 countries who gathered on Saturday at the “Tor Vergata” University grounds, on the outskirts of Rome, to thank God for the 50 years of their presence in Rome.
Initiated in Madrid in 1964 by lay Spanish artist, Kiko Argüello, the Neocatechumenal Way, is dedicated to post- and pre-baptismal formation of Christians, based on the word of God, the Eucharist and the Christian community.
The Way engages families who through their witness and life serve to establish the presence of the Catholic Church in countries where the Church is absent or tiny, or to revive and strengthen the presence of Catholic communities in difficult and highly secularized areas.
At the end of the meeting, the Pope sent out 34 new “mission ad gentes” to proclaim the Gospel in various parts of the world, and another 25 communities to parishes of Rome Diocese.
The Pope centred his discourse on the mandate of Jesus “Go” as He sent out his disciples on mission. He said when a missionary goes out, he leaves with “only the baggage of trust” in the poor Jesus who did not have anywhere to lay His head.
“To go, you must be light. To proclaim, it is necessary to renounce,” the Pope told members of the Way, stressing that a heart freed of attachments broadens and becomes available to God and to others. One who renounces transitory things out of love, embraces the great treasure of freedom, he said.
Pope Francis also drew attention to the plural form of the mandate “Go”, saying a “complete missionary” does not all alone but “walks together”. He said this is an art as it implies walking together without isolating oneself and without imposing on others one's direction of march, “united, as Church, with the Pastors, with all the brothers, without breaking away ahead and without complaining about the slowest.”
Making disciples, witnessing, family atmosphere
Christ’s mandate of ”making disciples”, the Pope continued, “is totally different from the dynamics of proselytism.” It is sharing one’s encounter with Christ that has changed one’s life, the Pope said stressing that the heart of the mission is to witness that God loves us.
He urged members of the Neocatechumenaal Way not to count on arguments that convince, but on a life that attracts; not the ability to impose oneself, but the courage to serve.”
Reminding them of their vocation of proclaiming the Gospel, living in the family, he urged them to “bring this family atmosphere into many desolate and unconcerned places.” By making disciples of all peoples, he said, Jesus meant to emphasize that “in his heart there is room for every people. Nobody is excluded.”
Finally, Pope Francis urged the Way to love the cultures and traditions of peoples they are sent to, without applying pre-established models.” They must not start from theories and schemes, but from concrete situations, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest, helping the Church grow “united in the diversity of peoples, gifts and charisms,” the Pope said.