By Vatican News
Catholics in Bulgaria make up about one per cent of the population, in an overwhelmingly Orthodox nation. Around ten thousand faithful gathered in the predominantly Catholic town of Rakovski, in southern Bulgaria, on Monday afternoon to see and hear Pope Francis speak to them about a theme very close to his heart: seeing with the eyes of faith.
God gets involved
“God’s people learn to see…and be guided by the power of the resurrection”, began the Pope. While recognizing there will always be pain and injustice, they do not “shrink back in fear”, but courageously “take the first step in finding creative ways of directly testifying that Love is not dead”. The People of God get involved, said the Pope, because, in Jesus, “God Himself gets involved”.
God not worried about details
Pope Francis shared his experience of visiting a refugee camp earlier in the morning. He spoke of how every person there is recognized as a child of God, regardless of ethnicity or religious confession, and how there is “no need to ask for a curriculum vitae”. The Pope said he met many Christians “who have learned to see with God’s own eyes”, a God who is not worried about details.
God is not a pessimist
Pope Francis continued with a quote by Pope Saint John XXIII: “I never met a pessimist who managed to do something good”. The Lord is the first not to be pessimistic. Seeing with the eyes of faith means not spending your life “pinning labels”, said Pope Francis. Rather, we should try to create conditions “in which every person can feel loved”.
Living for others
Pope Francis then commented on the three testimonies that preceded the afternoon encounter. After a family told him how their parish was a second home where they found strength and support, the Pope confirmed that every parish should be “a home in the midst of homes”. After a priest described how it is people who help him become a good minister of God, the Pope said “a priest without his people loses his identity”.
A home with open doors
Responding to the testimony of a woman religious, Pope Francis spoke of the “Church that is a Mother”. She does not offer “ready-made answers”, he said, but “makes her children’s problems her own”. The Pope described the Church as “a family among families…open to faith, hope and love for the Lord. A home with open doors”.
Pope Francis invited Bulgaria’s Catholic community to be “bold and creative”, and to find ways to touch the hearts of young people, especially, supporting and accompanying them through “new and imaginative efforts in our pastoral outreach”.
“Let us not be afraid to meet new challenges”, concluded the Pope. Just make sure that everyone has “a community of faith to support them”, and “always listen with one ear to the Gospel and the other to the heart of your people”.