Sunday, October 29, 2006

Angelus: every Christian has “innate missionary vocation” through Baptism



~via Asia News

Baptism, which in the ancient Church was also significantly called “enlightenment”, gives each Christian “an innate missionary vocation”. On the last Sunday of the missionary month of October, Benedict XVI talked once again about mission, taking his queue from the Gospel episode of Bartimaeus, the blind man who, having asked for and obtained healing “because of his faith”, becomes a disciple.

In St Peter’s Square, on a sunny day reminiscent of summer, the Latin text of the Angelus prayer was shown on maxi screens for the first time, to enable the faithful present to pray the words together with the Pope. Among the crowd of 50,000 pilgrims, there was a large yellow and blue arch with the word “Loreto”, put up by youth delegates from all the regions of Italy. They are currently meeting in Rome to implement a three-yearly project of the Italian church entitled “Agorà of youth”. Greeting them after the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI publicly announced his intention of going next year to the city that hosts a famous Marian shrine. “Dear friends,” he told them. “I bless your journey and I await you in large numbers for the meeting of young Italians scheduled for 1 and 2 September 2007 in Loreto.” He added: “Near that beloved Marian shrine, we will live a moment of grace together, in the joy of faith and perspective of mission, not least in preparation for the World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008.”

An unusual group present in the square today was composed of hundreds of motorcyclists of the Motorcyclists Association of the police force, who thundered down Via Conciliazione.

Before the Angelus, leaning out of the window of his study in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, the pope spoke about the Gospel reading, stressing that the “decisive moment was the personal, direct encounter between the Lord and that suffering man. They face each other: God with his desire to heal and the man with his desire to be healed. Two freedoms, two converging desires: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ asks the Lord. ‘Let me see again,’ responds the blind man. ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ With these words, a miracle takes place; the joy of God, the joy of man. And Bartimaeus, who has come to the light, ‘followed him on the way’, according the Gospel. Thus he becomes his disciple and goes with the Teacher to Jerusalem, to participate with Him in the great mystery of salvation."

The pope continued: “This account, with the essentiality of its passages, evokes the route of the Catechumen towards the sacrament of Baptism, which in the ancient Church was also called ‘Enlightenment’. Faith is a journey of enlightenment: it departs from the humility of recognizing that we are in need of salvation and reaches personal encounter with Christ, who invites all to follow him along the road of love. It is on this model that the itineraries of Christian initiation are based, as they prepare for the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation (or Cresima) and the Eucharist. In places of ancient evangelization, where the baptism of children is widespread, opportunities of catechesis and spirituality are offered to youth and adults, to enable them to follow a path of rediscovery of their faith in a mature and conscious way, to consequently assume a coherent commitment of bearing witness. How important the work of pastors and catechists in this field is! The rediscovery of values of one’s Baptism is at the basis of the missionary commitment of each Christian, because we see in the Gospel that those who allow themselves to be fascinated by Christ cannot but testify to the joy of following his footsteps. In this month of October, especially dedicated to mission, we understand even more that, precisely due to the strength of Baptism, we possess an innate missionary vocation.”

He added: “Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary so that missionaries of the Gospel may multiply. Intimately united with the Lord, may every person who has been baptized feel called to announce the love of God to all, with the witness of his own life.”

After the Angelus, Benedict XVI made an appeal “for people who, in countries around the world, are victims of kidnapping. While I reiterate the firmest condemnation of this crime, I give assurance that I remember in my prayer all victims and their relatives and friends. In particular, I join the urgent appeal recently made to me by the Archbishop and community of Sassari for Mr John Baptist Pinna, kidnapped on 14 September, so that he may be swiftly restored to his dear ones.”

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