File photo of missionaries of Missio Young People in Brazil File photo of missionaries of Missio Young People in Brazil  (Arquivo POM Brasil)

Pope to young people: Missionaries evangelize with heartfelt smile

Pope Francis meets with young Italian members of the Pontifical Mission Societies, and urges them to renew their missionary spirit in order to give new life to others.

By Devin Watkins

Arise from your sedentary lifestyle, to care for your brothers and sisters and bear witness to the Gospel of joy.”

Pope Francis employed those three italicized verbs on Saturday to summarize the task of a Christian missionary, as he spoke to young people from Italy who are part of Missio Young People, a part of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

The Italian youth were gathered in Rome for a Youth Missionary Convention taking place under the theme: “Back to the COMIGI: Mission restarts from the future”. The conference is a way to renew the missionary impulse of young people, and comes as the group marks its 50th anniversary.

Arise from paralysis of egoism

Pope Francis explored the first of the three verbs which he said characterize the Church’s missionary spirit.

“Arise,” he said, is what Jesus told the son of the widow of Nain in the Gospel of Luke (7:11-17) as He returned him to life.

The Pope noted that Jesus showed great compassion to the boy’s mother by telling her not to cry. Rather than an empty consolation uttered at a funeral, Jesus’ words express an action, and give the woman back her hope.

“Jesus gives us the strength to arise and invites us to withdraw from the death of being folded in upon ourselves and the paralysis of self-centeredness, laziness, and superficiality.”

The Pope added that missionaries are called to help their brothers and sisters arise through charity and hope.

Care with dynamic charity

The Holy Father went on to reflect on the verb “to care for”, which he said means “living charity in a dynamic and intelligent way,” like the Good Samaritan.

Young people, he said, need to have caring eyes to seek out those who are in need, while employing their caring heart to assist in any way they can.

“Now it is your turn to live a discreet and effective charity, which intelligently dreams big, endures in the long-term, and is able to accompany people in their journey of healing and growth.”

Bear witness with joy

Pope Francis then turned to the verb “to bear witness”, calling it an “essential aspect of mission”.

Every Christian, he said, is called to live immersed in a permanent Easter as one who has been brought back to life and not in a moribund mindset.

“Mission has to be motivated by the enthusiasm to finally share this happiness with others,” said the Pope. “It is a beautiful and enriching experience of faith, which knows how to deal with the inevitable push-backs of life”.

In conclusion, the Holy Father urged the young Italian missionaries to always evangelize others with a heartfelt smile and not with melancholy.

“Always share the Good News, and you will be happy.”

23 April 2022, 13:19