(Source: MJ/Robin Gomes, Vatican News)

At the start of the Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Saturday morning, Pope Francis urged for prayers for those working in funeral services. 

“What they do is something very painful and sad. They are touched closely by the pain of this pandemic,” he said.

Celebrating the liturgical feast of St. Mark, the Pope in his homily reflected on the Saint’s Gospel, where Jesus, before going away to the Father, sends forth His disciples saying, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

Going out of self

Stressing the missionary nature of faith, he said, “Faith is either missionary or it is no faith at all.”

It is not something only for oneself.  One grows with faith which leads one to go out of oneself to others, which is what “sending forth” means, the Pope said.

“Faith must be transmitted, it must be offered, above all through witness,” he stressed. 

The Holy Father recalled a priest working in a European city complaining of much agnosticism and lack of faith among Christians. The Pope said this is because of the lack of the missionary spirit. Faith is something that we offer, above all, through witness. 

Faith is transmitted

The designation of a Christian or a Catholic on the identity card is a mere data, something cultural.

“This is not faith,” the Pope said. “Faith necessarily takes you out, it leads you to give it to others, because faith must be essentially transmitted. It does not remain quiet.”

Being a missionary does not consist in just going to distant lands. It means that if you have faith, you necessarily have to get out of yourself and show your faith socially. 

This does not mean proselytising, “as if recruiting people for a soccer team or a charity”.

Convincing witness

The transmission of faith is to reveal God through witness and service so that the Holy Spirit can act in people.

Service is a way of life, the Pope said.  If I say that I am a Christian and live like a pagan, no one will be convinced.

Instead, if I am a Christian and live as a Christian, people are attracted, and this is witness.

A university student in Poland had asked the Pope what he could do to convince many of his atheist friends. The Pope said, “The last thing you need to do is say something.”

“Start living, and, seeing your testimony, they will ask you: ‘Why do you live like this?’.” Faith, the Holy Father explained, must be transmitted, not to convince but to offer as a treasure. 

Humility

This, the Pope said, is done with humility as St. Peter urges in the first reading: “Clothe yourselves all with humility towards each other” (1 Peter 5:5).

He said there are many instances of men or women in the Church, in history, in movements and groups, who preached like proselytisers and ended up in corruption.

The Pope concluded saying that the Lord assures us that if we go out of ourselves to witness to Him, we will be fruitful and work wonders.

In the transmission of ideologies, he pointed out, there will be teachers but in the transmission of faith, the Lord will be with us and accompanies us until the end of the world.

More of the Pope’s Santa Marta homilies:

24/4: Francis, in Santa Marta Mass: “The power of the pastor is service. He has no other power”

23/4: Santa Marta Mass: Pope denounces money-lenders profiting from hunger of families during COVID-19

22/4: Santa Marta Mass: Francis urges Europe to “fraternal unity” to overcome coronavirus

21/4: Santa Marta Mass: Pope condemns money, vanity and gossip as causes of division in Church

20/4: Santa Marta Mass: On coronavirus, Francis asks politicians to set aside good of the party for good of the country


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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.