Pope Francis in Mongolia Pope Francis in Mongolia  (Vatican Media) Editorial

A whisper in the silence of the steppe

Our Editorial Director reflects on the mission of the numerically small Catholic Church in Mongolia, as Pope Francis encourages them to listen to the 'low whisper' of God in our hearts.

By Andrea Tornielli

In the words that Pope Francis addressed to the Church of Mongolia, small in number, but great in charity, one finds precious insights, useful far beyond the borders of this land where one's gaze is lost in the horizon of the steppes.

To this still nascent Church, the Successor of Peter reiterated what mission is, that is, "spending one's life for the Gospel."

He said that, precisely because "one has experienced in one's own life the tenderness of God's love" that "God who has made Himself visible, able to be touched and encountered in Jesus."

For He, the Pope insisted, is the "Good News, meant for all peoples, the proclamation the Church "must constantly proclaim," "embody in her life" and 'whisper' to the heart of individuals and cultures.

The image of "whispering to the heart" is particularly evocative.

Christianity has not spread thanks to thunderous cultural battles or proclamations, nor, on the other hand, through the accommodation of that bourgeois religion, made up of rituals, traditions and quiet living, already denounced by Charles Peguy in his own time.

It is instead an announcement to be witnessed first of all with one's life, and thus whispered to the hearts of people and cultures.

The verb "whisper" recalls that passage in the First Book of Kings, where God does not manifest Himself to the prophet Elijah in an earthquake or fire, but in the "murmur of a gentle wind."

Only the glare of testimony that can truly attract. It is no coincidence that Friedrich Nietzsche thus reproached the Christians of his time: "Your faces have always been more injurious to your belief than our objections have!"

The privileged path of witness, visible through the embodiment of the small reality of the Church of Mongolia', is charity.

The Holy Father invited Catholics of this country to always remain in contact with the face of Jesus to return again and again to that original gaze from which everything was born. Otherwise, even pastoral commitment "risks becoming sterile provision of services, in a succession of due actions that end up transmitting nothing."

The Pope then emphasised that Jesus the Nazarene, in sending His followers on mission, did not send them "to spread a political thought, but to bear witness with their lives to the newness of the relationship with His Father, who became 'Our Father', thus triggering a concrete fraternity with every people."

The Church that is born from this mandate is therefore poor, not relying on its own resources, structures and privileges. It does not need the crutch of power, but "rests only on a genuine faith, on the disarming and disarming power of the Risen One, capable of alleviating the suffering of wounded humanity."

This is why, Pope Francis added, governments and secular institutions "have nothing to fear from the evangelising action of the Church, because She does not have a political agenda to pursue, but knows only the humble power of God's grace and "a Word of mercy and truth, capable of promoting the good of all."

There are meaningful words not only for a country like Mongolia, where respect for different religions has a centuries-old tradition, but also for its large adjoining "neighbours."

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02 September 2023, 12:05