Christians are called to be evangelists, seeking out the sheep who are lost rather than staying at home tending to the few who have never left, Pope Francis said at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.
“It's the 99 who we're missing! We have to go out, we must go to them,” the Bishop of Rome said June 17 to the participants of the annual convention of the Diocese of Rome.
photo by Bertoz
“The Lord wants pastors, not combers of sheep; pastors! And when a community is closed, always among the same people who talk, this community is not a community that gives life.”
Pope Francis opened his speech discussing grace, and its tremendous power to make saints out of sinners, through the freedom it brings. He called the power of grace “revolutionary,” and that it must have a revolutionary effect on the hearts of Christians.
“Only one thing is necessary to become saints: accept the grace that the Father gives us in Jesus Christ. Behold, this grace changes our heart. We continue to be sinners, because we are all weak, but even with this grace that makes us think that the Lord is good, that the Lord is merciful.”
The heart revolutionized by grace, he said, will be “full of tenderness for those bearing the wounds of life.” He turned to the many people in Rome who live without hope.
Everyone, the Bishop of Rome said, can think of those “who are immersed in deep sadness that they try to get out of, believing to have found happiness in alcohol, in drugs, in gambling, in the power of money, in sexuality without rules.” These people, he said, are living without hope.
“How can we go ahead and offer hope? Go down the street saying, 'I have hope'? No! With your testimony, with your smile, saying: 'I believe that I have a Father.'”
“The proclamation of the Gospel is this: with my words, with my testimony to say: 'I have a Father.'”
Yet, he emphasized, Christians should not proselytize, or to seek to convince others. “The Gospel is a like a seed,” he said, but the sowing must be done with both word and witness.
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