Pope Francis encouraged the Catholic Faithful to generously and simply proclaim the Gospel in his homily at the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday.
The Pope started by quoting St Matthew’s Gospel and Jesus’ exhortation to the Apostles: “Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with coppers for your purses.” He said the Lord wanted us to “proclaim the Gospel with simplicity, a simplicity that gives way to the power of the Word of God.”
He continued, “Evangelical preaching flows from gratuitousness, from the wonder of the salvation that comes and that which I have freely received I must freely give. This is what they were like at the beginning. St Peter did not have a bank account, and when he had to pay taxes, the Lord sent him to the sea to catch fish and find the money to pay. Philip, when he met Queen Candace’s finance minister, did not think ‘Ah, good, let’s set up an organisation to support the Gospel…’ No! He did not strike a ‘deal’ with him. He preached, baptised and left.”
The Pope warned against proselytizing (inducing someone to convert to one’s own faith) rather than proclaiming saying that instead “our strength is in the gratuitousness of the Gospel. The Lord has invited us to preach, not to proselytize.” He then quoted Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’ words, saying “the Church does not grow through proselytizing but by drawing people to her” and this attraction, he suggested, comes from the testimony of “those who freely proclaim the gratuity of salvation.”
“Everything is grace. Everything. And what are the signs of when an apostle lives this gratuity? There are so many but I will underline only two: first, poverty. The proclamation of the Gospel must follow the path of poverty. I have no wealth, my wealth is the gift I have received, God: this gratuity is our wealth! And this poverty saves us from becoming managers, entrepreuners…The works of the Church must be brough forward, and some are a little complex, but with a heart of poverty, not with the heart of an investment broker or an entrepreneur…”
“The Church is not an NGO (non-governmental organisation or private business); it is something else, something more important, and this is the result of gratuity. Received and proclaimed.”
“The other sign is the ability of praise: when an apostle does not live this gratuity, he or she loses the ability to praise the Lord….Praising the Lord is a gratuitous prayer.”
The Pope concluded saying, “And when we find the apostles who want to build a rich Church and a Church without the gratuitousness of praise, the Church becomes old, the Church becomes an NGO, the Church becomes lifeless. Today we ask the Lord for the grace to acknowledge this generosity: ‘freely you have received, freely give’. Recognising this gratuity, this gift of God, let us move forward in preaching the Gospel.”