God Calls: We Need to Listen

Homily during visit to Frascati, Italy
Sunday, July 15, 2012


Dear brothers and sisters!H.H. Benedict XVI

I am very pleased to be among you today to celebrate this Eucharist and to share the joys and hopes, trials and efforts, ideals and aspirations of this diocesan community. I greet Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State and the titular of this diocese. I greet your pastor, Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, and the Mayor of Frascati, thanking them for the kind words of welcome with which they greeted me on your behalf. I am pleased to welcome the Minister, the Presidents of the Region and the Province, the Mayor of Rome, the other mayors present and all the distinguished authorities.

And I am very happy today to celebrate this Mass with your bishop who for more than twenty years, as he already mentioned, was a very loyal and capable collaborator of mine in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Working primarily in the field of catechesis and catechism with great silence and discretion he contributed to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Catechism. His voice is also very present in this great symphony of faith.

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus takes the initiative to send the twelve Apostles on a mission (cf. Mk 6.7 to 13). In fact, the term "apostles" literally means "emissary, messenger." Their vocation is fully realized after the resurrection of Christ with the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. However, it is very important that from the outset Jesus wants to involve the Twelve in his action: it is a sort of "internship" in view of the great responsibility that awaits them. The fact that Jesus calls some disciples to collaborate directly in His mission, expresses an aspect of His love: He does not disdain the help that other men can contribute to his work, He knows their limits, their weaknesses, but does not despise them, indeed, He confers on them the dignity of being His emissaries. Jesus sends them out two by two and gives them instructions, which the Evangelist summarizes in a few sentences. The first concerns the spirit of detachment: the apostles must not be attached to money and comforts. Then Jesus warns the disciples that they will not always receive a favorable welcome: at times they will be rejected, and indeed may also be persecuted. But that should not affect them: they must speak in the name of Jesus and preach the Kingdom of God, without worrying about their success. They must leave the success in God's hands.

The first reading, presents us the same perspective, showing us that often God’s messengers are not well received. This is the case of the prophet Amos, sent out by God to prophesize in the sanctuary of Bethel, a sanctuary of the kingdom of Israel (cf. 7.12 to 15 Am). Amos preached with great energy against injustice, especially denouncing the abuses of the king and chiefs, abuses that offend the Lord, and render acts of worship vain. Thus Amaziah, a priest of Bethel, orders Amos to leave. He replies that he did not choose this mission, but the Lord made him a prophet and sent him there, to the kingdom of Israel. Therefore, whether accepted or rejected, he will continue to prophesize, preaching what God says and not what people want to hear. And this remains the mandate of the Church: She does not preach what the powerful want to hear. The criterion is truth and justice even if it goes against applause and against human power.

Similarly, in the Gospel, Jesus warns the Twelve that they may encounter rejection in some places. In this case they must go elsewhere, after having carried out the gesture of shaking the dust from their feet in front of the people, a sign that expresses detachment in two senses: moral detachment - as if to say: the announcement was given to you, you are the ones who refuse it - and material detachment - we did not and do not want anything for ourselves (cf. Mk 6.11). The other very important indication of the Gospel is that the Twelve can not be content to preach conversion: their preaching must be accompanied, according to the instructions and example given by Jesus, by the healing of the sick. Care of the sick bodily and spiritually. He speaks of the concrete curing of diseases, but he also speaks of casting out demons that is, purifying the human mind, cleaning, cleaning the eyes of the soul that are obscured by ideology and therefore can not see God, can not see the truth and justice. This dual physical and spiritual healing is always the mandate of the disciples of Christ. The Apostolic mission must always include both aspects of preaching the word of God and the manifestation of His goodness with acts of charity, service and dedication.

Dear brothers and sisters, I give thanks to God who sent me here 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, this Church in Frascati. Your bishop has informed me of his most heartfelt pastoral commitment, which is essentially a commitment to formation, aimed primarily at educators: forming the formators. This is exactly what Jesus did with his disciples: He taught them, prepared them, formed them also through missionary "training", so they were capable of taking on Apostolic responsibility in the Church. It is a beautiful and exciting thing to see that after two thousand years, we are still carrying on Christ’s commitment to formation! In the Christian community, this is always the first service offered by those in roles of responsibility: starting with parents, who in the family accomplish the mission of educating children, we think of parish priests, who are responsible for formation in the community, of all priests, in different fields of work: priority is always given to the educational dimension, and the lay faithful who, in addition to their role as parents, are involved in the formation of young people or adults, as leaders in Apostolic Action and other church movements, or engaged in civil and social spheres, always with a strong focus on forming people.

The Lord calls us all, distributing different gifts for different tasks in the Church. He calls us to the priesthood and consecrated life, and He calls us to marriage and commitment as lay people within the Church and in society. What is important is that the wealth of these gifts is fully welcomed, especially by young people: that they may feel the joy of responding to God with their whole heart, gifting it on the path of priesthood and consecrated life or on the path of marriage, two complementary paths that illuminate each other, enrich each other and together enrich the community. Virginity for the Kingdom of God and marriage are both vocations, calls by God to be answered with and for our entire life. God calls: we need to listen, welcome, respond. Like Mary: Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word (Lk 1.38).

Even here, in the diocesan community of Frascati, the Lord bountifully sows his gifts, he calls you to follow Him and to extend His mission today. Even here there is need for a new evangelization, which is why I propose you intensely live the Year of Faith, which will begin in October, 50 years from the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The Council documents contain an enormous wealth for the formation of new generations of Christians, for the formation of our consciousness. So read them, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and rediscover the beauty of being Christians, of being Church to enjoy the great "we" that Jesus has formed around him, to evangelize the world: the "we" of the Church, never closed, but always open and projected towards the proclamation of the Gospel.

Dear brothers and sisters of Frascati! Be united among yourselves, and at the same time open, be missionaries. Stand firm in faith, rooted in Christ through the Word and the Eucharist; be people of prayer, to always remain bound to Christ, as branches to the vine, and at the same time go out, bring His message to everyone, especially the small, to the poor, the suffering. In every community, love each other, do not be divided but live as brothers and sisters, so that the world may believe that Jesus is alive in his Church and the Kingdom of God is near. The Patrons of the Diocese of Frascati are two Apostles, Philip and James, two of the Twelve. To their intercession we commend your community’s journey, that it may be renewed in faith and give clear witness in works of charity. Amen.




Return to the Heart of the Shepherd...

Return to Homilies of H.H. Benedict XVI...