During the Mass, Francis told those present that “Even if it may seem that you are getting yourself dirty or stained, get involved,” which means “to be brave” and have “evangelical courage”. For him, “the Church is not a customs house. She wants open doors because the heart of her God is not only open, but pierced by the love that has become pain."
Medellín (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass today in Medellín (pictured) in front of about a million people according to organisers. During the service, he said that “the Church in Colombia is called to commit itself, with greater boldness, to forming missionary disciples.”
Medellín, where the pope launched his appeal, is Colombia’s second largest city, its main industrial hub, and for years symbol of drug trafficking. It also has a particularly important place in the history of the Latin American Church.
It was here, in 1968, that the Second Assembly of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano, CELAM) took place. Those were the years of Vatican II. Paul VI came to open the assembly, which John Paul II cited in his visit to Colombia in 1983.
Francis's appeal is also a direct reference to Aparecida, where the Fifth Conference of the Latin American Episcopate took place in 2007. Cardinal Bergoglio was the author of the final document of that assembly and he is particularly close to it.
With it in mind, Francis today said: "Disciples who know how to see, judge and act, as stated in that Latin-American document born in this land. Missionary disciples that know how to see, without hereditary short-sightedness; looking at reality with the eyes and heart of Jesus, and only then judging. Disciples who risk, act, and commit themselves.”
"Even if it may seem that you are getting yourself dirty or stained, get[ting] involved”. This means “we are called upon to be brave, to have that evangelical courage which springs from knowing that there are many who are hungry, who hunger for God, who hunger for dignity, because they have been deprived. As Christians, help them to be satiated by God; do not impede them or stop this encounter.”
For the pontiff, therefore, it is important first of all that the disciple not cling to certain practices that come closer to the way of some of the Pharisees than to that of Jesus. In this case, he noted, they are "paralyzed by a rigorous interpretation” of the law. Jesus, however, does not stick to a seemingly correct observance. He teaches "that being in relationship with God cannot be a cold attachment to norms". The first trait that must shape the life of the disciple is instead to reach out "to what is essential."
In fact, discipleship cannot “simply be motivated by custom because we have a baptismal certificate.” It “must begin with a living experience of God and his love. It is not something static, but [is] a continuous movement towards Christ,” it is ongoing training “by listening to his word.”
Because “We cannot be Christians who continually put up ‘do not enter’ signs, nor can we consider that this space is mine or yours alone, or that we can claim ownership of something that is absolutely not ours. The Church is not ours, she is God’s; he is the owner of the temple and the field; everyone has a place, everyone is invited to find here, and among us, his or her nourishment. We are simple servants and we cannot prevent this encounter.”
"Peter Claver understood this," Francis said referring to the Jesuit who in the 1600s devoted himself to helping black slaves deported to Latin America and whom he will venerate tomorrow in Cartagena.
"’Slave of the blacks forever’ was the motto of his life because he understood, as a disciple of Jesus, that he could not remain indifferent to the suffering of the most abandoned and downtrodden people of his time and that he had to do something to alleviate it."
Finally, off the cuff, the Holy Father went on to say that “the Church is not a custom house. She wants open doors because the heart of her God is not only open, but pierced by the love that has become pain."
Referring to the episode of the Marriage of Cana, Francis noted that Jesus "sends for everyone, healthy and sick, good and bad, everyone! This is our service". This means "eating God’s bread, eating God's love, eating the bread that helps us survive."
“I have come here precisely to confirm you in the faith and hope of the Gospel. Remain steadfast and free in Christ, in such a way that you manifest him in everything you do; take up the path of Jesus with all your strength, know him, allow yourselves to be called and taught by him, and proclaim him with great joy.”
“Let us pray through the intercession of Our Mother, Our Lady of Candelaria, that she may accompany us on our path of discipleship, so that, giving our lives to Christ, we may simply be missionaries who bring the light and joy of the Gospel to all people.”
From Cartagena, on the last stop of his visit to Colombia, Francis made an appeal “for the rejection of all violence in political life” in Venezuela. He also visited the shrine of Saint Peter Claver, ‘the slave of the blacks forever” who “witnessed in a formidable way to the responsibility and care that we should have for one another.”