Pope at Mass for Rome's Congolese community: ‘Peace begins with each of us'

As he presides over Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the Congolese community in Rome, Pope Francis asks the faithful to join in for prayer for peace for the wounded but vibrant Democratic Republic of Congo.

By Linda Bordoni

At Mass on Sunday with the Congolese community in Rome, on the day he had been scheduled to preside over Mass at Ndolo Airport in Kinshasa, Pope Francis asked for prayers for peace for the wounded nation and reminded Christians that they are called to “Live in peace, kindle peace,” so that peace may dwell in their homes, Church, and country.


The Pope found inspiration in the Gospel according to Luke that assures us that the nearness of God who is Jesus, the source of our joy, fills us with awe, surprises us and changes our lives. He noted that this is what drove the disciples to go far away, on a mission, to announce God's closeness and proclaim the Word of the Lord.

“If we ask ourselves what our task is in the world, what we are to do as the Church in history, the answer of the Gospel is clear: mission.”

As Christians, the Pope said, we cannot be content to live in mediocrity, for we are missionaries of Jesus, and we are sent into the world “with three missionary surprises that Jesus has in store for the disciples and for each of us.”

Pope Francis prays at Mass
Pope Francis prays at Mass

First surprise: equipment

The equipment we are required to take is practically nothing, the Pope said: “no baggage, no security, no help.”

“We often think that our Church initiatives do not function properly because we lack facilities, money and means: this is not true. The refutation comes from Jesus himself.”

Urging the faithful not to trust in riches or fear poverty, be it material or human, Pope Francis said, “The more we are free and simple, small and humble, the more the Holy Spirit guides the mission and makes us protagonists of its wonders.”

The only fundamental “equipment”, he continued, is fraternity, “because there is no mission without fellowship. There is no proclamation that works without caring for others.”

Second surprise: the message

The second surprise of mission is “the message”, the Pope said, acknowledging that it is logical to think that in order to prepare for the proclamation, “the disciples should learn what to say, study the contents thoroughly, and prepare convincing and well-articulated speeches.”

Instead, he explained, Jesus offers them only two little phrases: "Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace be to this house!"; the second, "The kingdom of God is at hand.”

Congolese faithful in St. Peter's Basilica
Congolese faithful in St. Peter's Basilica

Peace for the Democratic Republic of Congo

In any place, Pope Francis reiterated, the Christian is a bearer of peace, this is his or her hallmark.

Those who spread chatter and suspicion, create divisions, hinder fellowship, put their belonging before everything, are not acting in the name of Jesus, he said: “Those who foment resentment, incite hatred, or bypass others do not work for Jesus; they do not bring His peace.”

“Today, dear brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace and reconciliation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so wounded and exploited.”

Listen to our report

"Today," the Pope said, “we join the Masses celebrated in the country according to this intention and pray that Christians may be witnesses of peace, capable of overcoming every feeling of rancor and revenge, the temptation that reconciliation is not possible, every unhealthy attachment to one's own group that leads to contempt for others.”

“Brothers and sisters, peace begins with us; with you and me, with each person's heart.”

He told the faithful that Jesus comes if they live His peace: “Your family, your society changes. They change if first your heart is not at war, not armed with resentment and anger, not divided, double and false.”

“Put peace and order in your heart, defuse greed, extinguish hatred and resentment, flee corruption, cheating and cunning: that's where peace begins.”

Faithful from Congo-Brazzaville taking part in the Mass
Faithful from Congo-Brazzaville taking part in the Mass

The Holy Father invited believers to bring peace into their homes, and to begin to do so by honouring and loving their spouse, respecting and caring for their children, elders and neighbours.

“Live in peace, kindle peace, and peace will dwell in your home, in your Church, in your country," he said.

The second part of the message that tells us that “The kingdom of God is near" calls for hope and conversion, the Pope explained, and the knowledge that “He is the Father of all, who wants us all to be brothers and sisters.”

“If we live under this gaze, the world will no longer be a battlefield, but a garden of peace; history will not be a race to be first, but a common pilgrimage.”

Congolese priests concelebrate Mass on Sunday
Congolese priests concelebrate Mass on Sunday

Third surprise: style

After the equipment and the message, the Pope said, the third missionary surprise concerns our style, reminding us that Jesus asks His people to go into the world "as lambs in the midst of wolves.”

In a world that expects us to impose ourselves and excel, the Pope explained, Christ wants us to be lambs, not wolves. “This does not mean being naive, but abhorring all instincts of supremacy and overpowering, of greed and possession.”

“Those who live as lambs neither attack nor are voracious: they stay in the flock, with others, and find security in their Shepherd, not in force or arrogance, in the greed for money and possessions that causes so much harm, even to the DRC.”

Pope Francis concluded by reminding Christians that the disciples of Jesus reject violence, hurt no one and love everyone. They look to their Shepherd, Jesus, “the Lamb of God who thus overcame the world, on the cross.”

"May the Lord help us to be missionaries today," he implored, "going in the company of our brother and sister; having on our lips the peace and closeness of God; carrying in our hearts the meekness and goodness of Jesus, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world."

Holy Mass for the Congolese Community
03 July 2022, 10:05