By Robin Gomes
Married couples are evangelizers on the move who, open to the Holy Spirit, become models of married life with their closeness, gratuitousness and the leaven of their witness.
The Pope made the point to the members of the Roman Rota, the Catholic Church highest court that handles appeals of marriage annulment cases. It also deals with other judicial and non-administrative cases related to Canon Law.
He held up Aquila and Priscilla, described in the Acts of the Apostles, as a holy model of married life. The Pope said this is what our parishes need, especially in urban areas where the parish priest and his clerical collaborators will never have time and strength to reach the faithful who don’t frequent the sacraments and perhaps are almost unaware of the knowledge of Christ.
Proximity and gratuitousness
Fired by the passion for the Lord and for the Gospel, the Pope explained, Aquila and Priscilla were close to the most needy brothers with their welcome and care, given freely. The Pope asked the judges of the Roman Rota whether in judging they are close to the heart of the people, whether they open their hearts gratuitously without any economic and commercial interests.
Shaking off slumber
Stressing that “the Lord came to seek sinners, not the perfect”, Pope Francis urged pastors, bishops, parish priests and even judges to shake themselves out of their slumber and inertia, like the missionary married couple, and reach out to the squares, building and cities where the light of Christ has not penetrated.
Guarding marriage from ideologies
The Holy Father also reminded pastors of their task of enlightening and guiding holy Christian couples, giving them visibility, making them capable of living their marriage and guarding them against the ideologies that undermine the solidity of the sacrament.
Holy Spirit the true protagonist
The Pope pointed out that the apostolic action of parishes is illuminated by the presence of spouses who are always on the move and moving out to others. In this regard, he stressed the primacy of the Holy Spirit, saying He is the protagonist of the Church’s mission. “If the Spirit is not invoked and therefore remains unknown and absent in the context of our particular Churches,” the Pope said, “we will be deprived of the strength that makes Christian married couples the soul and form of evangelization.” It is the Holy Spirit who continues to animate the holy Christian couples to come out and open themselves to others and transform interpersonal relationship into fraternity.
Not the Church of a few
The Pope said that the Holy Spirit does not want a Church of a few, as if content to remain an isolated yeast, deprived of that capacity of the spouses of the New Testament to be able to multiply themselves in humility and obedience to Him. The Church, he said, does not grow out of proselytism but out of the witness of people that attracts.
History does not say whether Aquila and Priscilla died as martyrs, but the Holy Father said they certainly were martyrs in the spiritual sense, that is, as witnesses of being a leaven to the flour, of dying to become the mass. “This,” the Pope said, “is possible today and everywhere.”