Our task is to make the Gospel accessible, Pope Francis says




On the Feast of the Ascension, Pope Francis said that when Jesus rose into heaven, he entrusted his Church with the great and dignified responsibility of spreading his Word and making it accessible to everyone.

In addition to signaling the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus’ Ascension reminds us of his constant assistance and that of his Spirit, “who gives strength and security to our Christian witness in the world,” the Pope said May 28.

The Holy Spirit “reveals to us why the Church exists: she exists to announce the Gospel” he said. “Only for that. And also, the joy of the Church is to announce the Gospel.”

Francis said the Church includes all faithful that have been baptized, who today “are invited to better understand that God has given us the great dignity and responsibility of announcing it to the world, of making it accessible to humanity.”

“This is our dignity, this is the greatest honor of the Church!” he said.

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Regina Coeli address, which is prayed during the Easter season instead of the Angelus.

In his brief speech, the Pope said Jesus’ ascension into heaven signaled the end of his own earthly ministry, and the beginning of the Church’s mission.

“From this moment, in fact, the presence of Christ in the world is mediated by his disciples, by those who believe in him and announce him,” he said, adding that this mission will last “until the end of history and will enjoy every day the assistance of the Risen Lord,” who promised to be with his disciples “until the end of the age.”

Jesus’ constant presence, he said, “brings strength in persecution, comfort in tribulation, support in situations of difficulty that the mission and the announcement of the Gospel encounter.”

As the Church throughout the world turns their gaze toward heaven, where Christ ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father, Christians must strengthen their own steps so as “continue with enthusiasm and courage our journey, our mission of bearing witness to and living the Gospel in every environment,” the Pope said.

However, he cautioned that this mission doesn’t depend on human efforts, resources or our ability to organize, because only the “light and strength” of the Holy Spirit makes it possible to “effectively fulfill our mission of making Jesus’ love and tenderness more known and experienced.”

Pope Francis then asked for Mary’s intercession in becoming “more credible” witnesses of the Resurrection, and led pilgrims in praying the Regina Coeli.

After the prayer, voiced his closeness to Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II following the May 26 attack on buses carrying Coptic Orthodox en route to St. Samuel the Confessor monastery in Minya.

Gunmen who stopped the buses opened fire, killing 29 and injuring at least 22 others, including children. The attack marked the latest act in a string of violence against the community in recent months.

In his comments to pilgrims, Pope Francis prayed for the Coptic Orthodox community in Egypt after undergoing “another act of ferocious violence.”

“The victims, among whom were also children, are faithful who were going to the shrine to pray, and were killed after they refused to deny their Christian faith,” he said, and prayed that God would “welcome into his peace these courageous witnesses, and convert the hearts of the violent.”

He also voiced his sorrow for the May 23 terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena in England, killing some 22 people, most of whom were youth who had be enjoying a concert by popular teen artist Ariana Grande.

Francis prayed for the victims of the “horrible attack,” which left many young lives “cruelly shattered,” and voiced his closeness to the families and “all who mourn the deceased.”

Finally, the Pope noted that the day also marks World Day of Social Communications, which this year holds the theme “Fear not, for I am with you: Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time.”

Social networks, he said, “offer the opportunity to share and disseminate the news in an instant; this news can be good or bad, true or false.” He prayed that communications, in every form, would be “constructive, at the service of the truth by refusing prejudices, and spread hope and trust in our time.”

by Elise Harris





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2 comments

  1. Peter Aiello Reply

    Pentecost was the actual moment that things shifted from Christ’s earthly ministry to the ministry of the apostles and the Church. This is when the power of the Holy Spirit descended on them after the ascension.
    Nowadays, we have the easy availability of Scripture to make the Gospel individually accessible through the printed word and technology. This was not possible back then. The days when the Catholic Church was the exclusive disseminator of Scripture is over, and has been for a long time.
    This is a reality that has been difficult for the Catholic Church to adjust to.

  2. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Making the gospel available is about one of the worst things one can do. The Catechism provides a very small “out” insofar as you may not go to Hell if you never had the opportunity to learn about Jesus. Once you know about him, your failure to believe and accept him condemns you to eternal torment. People who are ingrained in other religions are not going to drop those beliefs just because someone shared the gospel with them – instead, Christians have (if their nonsense is true), actually helped to ensure that the individual to whom they introduced the gospel, will now surely go to Hell for having failed to believe, say and do the right things. They would have been better off, having never learned of Jesus. They might have lived an exemplary life and beat the odds and made it to heaven, but now, having introduced the gospel to them, the Christian has damned them to Hell – which is what, it often seems, they wanted to do in the first place!
    .
    The Catholic Church always seems to be seeking ways to send souls to Hell. This is one way; another is denying contraception, because aborted, miscarried or stillborns who commit the heinous crime of dying before being baptized are denied salvation, and thus headed for Hell. Contraception would save countless souls from going to Hell. Sure the ones using contraception might be putting themselves at risk if the Church’s maniacal obsession with sex had any real meaning, but at least those people have a chance to repent and go to Confession. Unlike the unbaptized soul on the way to Hell, at least they have a chance.
    .
    But none of this is a concern. DNA evidence has debunked the Church’s story about original sin. They know it and it’s the greatest challenge they face right now. Their very legitimacy is at stake.

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