Pope at Audience: Apostles filled with zeal must embrace Gospel newness

At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis focuses on St Paul’s description of apostolic zeal, saying that heralds must be open to the newness of the Gospel, while warning of the dangers of distorted zeal.

By Christopher Wells

Having previously considered St Paul’s personal zeal for the Gospel, Pope Francis based his catechesis at the Wednesday General Audience on the Apostle’s description of evangelical zeal in his New Testament letters.

Starting with St Paul’s description of the “armour of God” in the Letter to the Ephesians, the Pope focused on the verse, “As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace” which also brings to mind the words of Isaiah, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the one who brings good tidings.”

Both St Paul and Isaiah, reference “the feet of a herald of good news […] because the one who goes to proclaim must move.”

But Paul also considers the shoes in the context of the analogy of a suit of armour, because soldiers must have stable footing in battle, and be prepared to run and move in the right direction.

“Evangelical zeal is the support on which proclamation is based.”

Apostolic zeal pushes Christians forth

Pope Francis went on to explain that “evangelical zeal is the support on which proclamation is based, and heralds are like the feet of the Body of Christ, the Church.”

Proclamation, he said, requires zeal that pushes Christians to go forth, arguing that the Christians cannot proclaim the Gospel while standing still, like “keyboard warriors.”

The Gospel, he affirmed, “is proclaimed by moving, by walking, by going forth.”

Be prepared for the newness of the Gospel

Finally, the Pope emphasized the need to be prepared for the newness of the Gospel. He warned against a “misdirected zeal” that stubbornly persists “in the observance of purely human and obsolete norms for the Christian community.”

Instead, those who proclaim the Gospel must recognize that “the Lord passes by in a surprising way,” and must be “ready to follow a wisdom that is not of this world.”

Unattached to their own schemes or plans of actions, he said, heralds must not allow “opportunities to promulgate the Gospel of peace” to pass by.

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12 April 2023, 09:18

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