Evangelization is about helping people know God’s love, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2019 / 07:15 am (CNA).- Evangelization means first helping people to know God and to know his immense love for them, which is done in part through the witness of one’s life and joy, Pope Francis said Saturday.

“Proclaiming the Lord is witnessing the joy of knowing him, helping to live the beauty of meeting him,” the pope said Sept. 21. “God is not the answer to an intellectual curiosity or a task of the will, but an experience of love, called to become a story of love.”

“Because – it applies to us above all – once we have met the living God, we need to look for him again,” he stated. “The mystery of God is never exhausted, it is as immense as his love.”

Pope Francis reflected on the evangelization those who do not know God in a meeting with the participants of an event from the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, which took place Sept. 19-21, and was called “To meet God: Is it possible? Paths of the New Evangelization.”

In his message, the pope asked how many of one’s neighbors live as if they are slaves to the very objects which should serve them.

People forget the “flavor of life: the beauty of a large and generous family, which fills the day and the night but expands the heart; the brightness found in the eyes of children, which no smartphone can give; the joy of simple things; the serenity that prayer gives,” he said.

“What our brothers and sisters often ask us, perhaps without being able to ask the question, corresponds to the deepest needs: to love and to be loved, to be accepted for what we are, to find peace of heart and a longer lasting joy of entertainment.”

Those present have experienced this in one person, he said: Jesus. “We, who, though frail and sinful, have been flooded by the river in the fullness of God’s goodness, we have this mission: meet our contemporaries to let them know his love.”

Francis said that it is important, therefore, to face and be challenged by the questions of men and women, not pretending to have easy, ready-made answers.

Sharing God with others cannot just be speaking about him – even the devil knows God exists, the pope said – but must be the sharing of life-giving words which leave room for the work of the Holy Spirit.

God is close to everyone, he said, but oftentimes, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, people just do not recognize him.

Francis shared an anecdote: “It is said that once upon a time Pope John, meeting a journalist who told him he did not believe, answered him: ‘Don’t worry! You say that! God doesn’t know, and considers you a child to love just the same.’”

“‘God is love,’ as Scripture says,” Pope Francis pointed out. “God is like that, he does not vary depending on how we behave: he is unconditional love, he does not change.”

This is a beautiful thing to be able to announce to those who have grown lukewarm, who have lost their first enthusiasm for Jesus Christ, he said.

Explaining that because faith is born and reborn from encountering Jesus, he said whatever is an encounter with Christ helps grow faith.

“Draw closer to those in need, build bridges, serve those who suffer, take care of the poor, ‘anoint with patience’ those around us, comfort those who are discouraged, bless those who harm us…” he urged.

“Thus, we become living signs of the Love we proclaim.”

 

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