Pope Benedict XVI's Homily in Frascati

"Be united among yourselves and at the same time open"

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ROME, JULY 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of Benedict XVI’s homily from Sunday during the celebration of the Eucharist in the Diocese of Frascati.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

I am very glad to be with you today to celebrate this Eucharist and to share the joys and hopes, burdens and commitments, ideals and aspirations of this diocesan community. I greet the Lord Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my secretary of state and titular bishop of this diocese. I greet your bishop, Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, and the mayor of Frascati, thanking them for the courteous words of welcome with which they received me in your name. I am glad to greet the lord minister, the presidents of the region and of the province, the mayor of Rome, the other mayors who are present and all of the distinguished officials.

And I am very happy to celebrate this Mass today with your bishop. As he mentioned, he was for more than 20 years he was a very faithful and capable co-worker of mine in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he worked most of all in the section on catechism and catechesis with great silence and discretion: he contributed to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to the Compendium of the Catechism. In this great symphony of the faith his voice too was quite present.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus takes the initiative of sending the 12 Apostles on mission (cf. Mark 6:7-13). In effect, the term “apostles” means “those sent.” Their vocation will be fully realized after Christ’s resurrection, with the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Nevertheless, it is very important that from the very beginning Jesus wanted to involve them in his action: it is a kind of “apprenticeship” in view of the responsibility that awaits them. The fact that Jesus calls some disciples to collaborate directly in his mission manifests an aspect of his love, that is, that he does not scorn the help that other men can bring to his work; he knows their limits, their weaknesses, but he does not disdain them, indeed, he confers on them the dignity of being his envoys. Jesus sends them out two by two and gives them instructions, which the evangelist sums up in a few phrases. The first touches on their spirit of detachment: the disciples must not be attached to money and comfort. Jesus then warns the disciples that they will not always receive a favorable reception: sometimes they will be rejected; on the contrary, they might be persecuted. But this must not bother them: they must speak in Jesus’ name and preach the Kingdom of God without being anxious for success. They will leave success to God.

The first reading that was proclaimed presents the same perspective to us, showing us that those sent by God are not always warmly welcomed. This is the case with the prophet Amos, who was sent by God to prophesy in the sanctuary of Bethel, a sanctuary of the kingdom of Israel (cf. Amos 7:12-15). Amos preaches with great energy against injustices, denouncing the abuses of power of the king and the higher-ups, abuses of power that offend the Lord and make acts of worship pointless. This is why Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, orders Amos to leave. Amos responds that he was not the one to choose this mission, rather the Lord made his a prophet and sent him precisely there, to the kingdom of Israel. Thus, whether he is accepted or rejected, he will continue to prophesy, preaching what God says and not what men want to hear. And this remains the mandate of the Church: do not preach what the powerful wish to hear. The criterion of prophets is the truth and justice even if this goes against human applause and human power.

Similarly, in the Gospel, Jesus warns the 12 that in some places they might be rejected. In such cases they must go elsewhere, after having performed the gesture before the people of shaking the dust of that place from their feet, a sign that expresses detachment in 2 senses: moral detachment – as if to say, you have received the proclamation and you were the ones who rejected it – and material detachment – we wanted nothing and we want nothing from you (cf. Mark 6:11). The other instruction that is very important in the Gospel passage is that the 12 cannot simply preach conversion: along with preaching there must be, according to the orders and example of Jesus, curing of the sick. Cure of the physically and spiritually sick. He speaks of the concrete healings of illnesses and of the casting out of dealings, that is, the purifying of the human mind, cleaning, cleaning the eyes of the soul that have been darkened by ideologies and so cannot see God, they cannot see truth and justice. This double physical and spiritual healing is always the mandate of Christ’s disciples. So, the apostolic mission must always carry these 2 aspects of preaching the word of God and manifesting his goodness with gestures of charity, service and dedication.

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank God that he has sent me today to re-announce to you this Word of salvation! A word that is at the foundation of the life and action of the Church, even this Church that is in Frascati! Your bishop informed me of the pastoral project that is very close to his heart, which is, in substance, a project of formation, directed first of all to formers: forming formers. This is precisely what Jesus did with his disciples: he instructed them, he prepared them, he formed them also through missionary “apprenticeship,” so that they would be able to take on apostolic responsibility in the Church. In the Christian community, this is always the first service that the leaders offer, beginning with parents, who carry out the educational mission of their children in the Christian family; we think of parish priests, who are responsible for formation in the community, and of all priests in different fields of work: all have education as a priority; and the lay faithful, beyond the already mentioned duty of parents, are involved in the service of forming youth and adults, as leaders in Catholic Action and other ecclesial movements, or as working in various civil and social spheres, always with great attention to the formation of persons.

The Lord calls everyone, distributing different gifts to different stations of life in the Church. He calls people to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, and he calls people to matrimony and to engagement in the Church herself and in society. It is important that the wealth of gifts be fully welcomed, especially by young people, who feel the joy of responding to the Lord with their whole self, giving themselves either in the priesthood and the consecrated life or in marriage, 2 ways of life that mutually complement and illuminate each other, reciprocally enrich each other and enrich the community. Virginity for the Kingdom of God and marriage are both vocations, those in both stations are called by God to respond with their life for their whole life. God calls: we must listen, welcome, respond. Like Mary: let it be done to me according to your word (cf. Luke 1:38).

Here too, in the diocesan community of Frascati, the Lord sows his gifts generously, he calls people to follow him and to continue his mission today. Here too there is need of a new evangelization, and for this reason I propose that you live intensely the Year of Faith that will begin in October, 50 years after the close of Vatican Council II. The Council documents contain an enormous wealth for the formation of new Christian generations, for the formation of our conscience. So, read them, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in this way rediscover the beauty of being Christians, of being Church, of living the great “we” that Jesus formed around himself to evangelize the world: the “we” of the Church, which is never closed but ever open and directed toward the proclamation of the Gospel.

Dear brothers and sisters of Frascati! Be united amongst yourselves and at the same time open, missionaries. Remain firm in the faith, rooted in Christ thought the Word and the Eucharist; be people who pray, to be always connected to Christ, like branches on the vine, and at the same time go, bring his message to everyone, especially to the little ones, the poor, the suffering. In every community love each other, do not be divided but live as brothers, so that the world believe that Jesus is alive in his Church and the Kingdom of God is near. The patron saints of the Diocese of Frascati are the 2 apostles Philip and James, 2 of the 12. To their intercession I entrust the journey of your community, that it renew itself in the faith and give clear witness with works of charity. Amen.

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]