Sunday, July 08, 2007
Angelus: Called to mission
Pope Benedict XVI waves at faithful as he appears from his studio's window for the Angelus prayer, Sunday, July 8, 2007. The Pontiff, about to begin an Alpine vacation, wished everybody the chance to go on vacation, recharge their body and soul as he plans to do and get back in touch with nature. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
~translated by Teresa Benedetta of Papa Ratzinger Forum
Dear brothers and sisters:
Today the Gospel (cfr Lk 10,1-12.17-20) presents Jesus who sends 72 disciples to the villages which he would be visiting so that they may prepare the way. This is a detail by the evangelist Luke, who thereby underscores that the mission was not reserved to the twelve Apostles but extended to other disciples.
In fact, Jesus says, "The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few" (Lk 10,2). There is work for everyone in the fields of God. But Christ does not limit himself to sending out disciples - he also gives missionaries clear and precise rules of behavior.
Above all, he sends them out "two by two" so they may help each other and give testimony of fraternal love. He warns them they will be "like sheep before wolves": they should therefore be peaceful in spite of everything and bring to every situation a message of peace.
They are not to take with them clothing nor money, but live on what Providence offers them. They are to take care of the sick, as a sign of God's mercy. Where they are rejected, they should leave, limiting themselves to warning about the responsibility of rejecting the Kingdom of God.
St. Luke highlights the enthusiasm of the disciples for the good fruits of the mission, and reports this beautiful sentence by Jesus: "But yet rejoice not in this, that spirits are subject unto you: but rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven" (Lk 10,20).
This Gospel arouses in all who are baptized the awareness of being missionaries of Christ, called to prepare the way for him with words and the testimony of our lives.
Tomorrow, I will leave for Lorenzago di Cadore, where I will be a guest of the Bishop of Treviso in the house which previously welcomed the venerated John Paul II. The mountain air will be good for me and I will be able to dedicate myself more freely to reflection and prayer.
I wish that everyone - especially those who need it most - will be able to have a little vacation to recharge physical and spiritual energies, and to be in healthy contact with nature. Mountains, in particular, evoke the ascent of the spirit upwards, an elevation towards the 'high standards' of our humanity which unfortunately, daily routine tends to lower.
In this respect, I wish to call attention to the fifth Youth Pilgrimage to the Cross of Adamello, which the Holy Father John Paul II visited twice. The pilgrimage took place in the past few days, and just now culminated in Holy Mass celebrated at some 3000 meters altitude.
In greeting the Archbishop of Trento and the Secretary-General of the Italian bishops conference (CEI), as well as the authorities of Trento, I also renew my reminder to all Italian youth for our appointment in Loreto on September 1-2.
May the Virgin Mary protect us always, whether in our work or in our just rest, so that we may be able to carry out our task with joy and fruition in the vineyard of the Lord.
Later, he greeted English-speaking pilgrims:
I warmly welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Angelus. In a special way I am pleased to greet those taking part in the Interamnia World Cup, handball tournament in Teramo - Italy. The participants in this event come from more than a hundred different Countries, some of which are in conflict with each other. Yet this peaceful gathering of athletes is an example of how sports can bring us together in the spirit of fellowship between peoples and cultures. Sports are indeed a sign that peace is possible.
In todays Gospel we are reminded that the harvest is plenty but the labourers are few. Let us all pray that the Lord of the Harvest will continue to bless his Church with confident and generous workers. I thank you for your prayerful presence, and I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God upon you and your families.
A priest waves towards Pope Benedict XVI during his weekly Angelus prayers at the Vatican July 8, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Helgren (VATICAN)