Pope Francis met with participants of an international meeting focused on the new evangelization. The two day meeting reflected on the pastoral implementation of the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).
The Pope said that it emphasizes the principal mission of the Church: to evangelize. However, he said, the fear that men and women face in confronting so many pastoral needs can easily lead to “an attitude of fear and defense”.
“From there comes the temptation of sufficiency and clericalism, to try to encode the faith in rules and instructions, as the scribes, Pharisees and doctors of the law did during Jesus’ time. We will have everything clear, everything in order, but the people of faith and those who are searching will continue to hunger and thirst for God.”
The Pope added that the Church is a field hospital that takes care of those who are wounded by staying close to them. Those with an attitude like that of the scribes and the Pharisees will never be able to give a “witness of closeness”.
The Pope compared the calling to evangelize to Jesus’ parable of the owner of the vineyard who went out in search of workers.
“In the parable, Jesus says that he went out at least five times: at dawn, at nine, at midday, at three and at five in the afternoon. There is still time…there is still time for Him to come to us.”
He added that like the owner of the vineyard, we must go out at all times, searching for those who are looking for God, especially the poor and disadvantaged.
The Pope also called on them to focus on the essential commitment to theevangelization rather than make their ministry a “frantic number of initiatives.”
“At times it seems that we are more preoccupied with multiplying activities rather than being attentive to the person and their encounter with God. A pastoral ministry that does not have this attention becomes sterile, little by little.”
Pope Francis concluded his address by calling those present to begin the evangelization by bearing witness to their Christian faith. A witness, he added, that even he must give when he speaks publicly.