In some of his addresses at World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero, Pope Francis has been using the term “missionary disciples.” This term immediately resonated with me. Having recently studied Sherry Weddell’s book Intentional Disciples, I had been left with a nagging discomfort with her phrase. The reason: redundancy. Though I understand (and agree with) Sherry’s purpose and intent, for me, already inherent in the meaning of the word “disciple” is an attitude of ‘intentionality’. Thus, I much prefer the term “missionary disciples’ for its emphasis on our responsibility to reach out.
Here are several other notable snippets from the (published) addresses of Pope Francis at WYD:
From his chat with his brother bishops:
…the results of our pastoral work do not depend on a wealth of resources, but on the creativity of love.
That is why it is important to devise and ensure a suitable formation, one which will provide persons able to step into the night without being overcome by the darkness and losing their bearings; able to listen to people’s dreams without being seduced and to share their disappointments without losing hope and becoming bitter; able to sympathize with the brokenness of others without losing their own strength and identity.
Communion is a fabric to be woven with patience and perseverance, one which gradually “draws together the stitches” to make a more extensive and thick cover. A threadbare cover will not provide warmth.
Let us spare no effort in the formation of our young people! Saint Paul uses a beautiful expression that he embodied in his own life, when he addressed the Christian community: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Let us embody this also in our own ministry! Let us help our young people to discover the courage and joy of faith, the joy of being loved personally by God, who gave his Son Jesus for our salvation. Let us form them in mission, in going out and going forth. Jesus did this with his own disciples: he did not keep them under his wing like a hen with her chicks. He sent them out! We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church. They too are invited to the table of the Lord.
At times, it seems that for some people, human relations are regulated by two modern “dogmas”: efficiency and pragmatism.
From his address after the “Way of the Cross”:
I have three questions that I hope will echo in your hearts this evening as you walk beside Jesus: What have you left on the Cross, dear young people of Brazil, during these two years that it has been crisscrossing your great country? What has the Cross of Jesus left for you, in each one of you? Finally, what does this Cross teach us?
3. But the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to always look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action which requires us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them.
From his remarks to Argentinian youth:
What do I expect as a consequence of the Youth Day? I expect a mess. There will be one. There will be a mess here in Rio? There will be! But I want a mess in the dioceses! I want people to go out! I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in in ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions, exist to go out!
From his homily at the concluding Mass:
Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission!
1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).
Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time”, but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.
A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow!
He is with us! “Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you.
Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission.
“I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.