Peace begins with the extinction of greed
Songs, joy and colorful traditional dress from the Democratic Republic of the Congo characterized the Holy Mass that Pope Francis celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday July 3 for the Congolese community in Rome. Were celebrating with Pope Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations; Bishop Emery Kabongo Kanundowi, Bishop Emeritus of Luebo; Bishop Benoni Ambarus, Auxiliary Bishop of Rome; and many priests from the African country. The following is a translation of the homily of the Holy Father during the celebration according to the Roman Missal for the dioceses of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), during which the prayers of the faithful were read in four indigenous languages: Lingala, Swahili, Tshiluba and Kikongo.
Boboto [Peace] R/ Bondeko [Fraternity]
Bondeko [Fraternity] R/ Esengo [Joy]
Esengo, joy: the Word of God that we have heard fills us with joy. Why, brothers and sisters? For, as Jesus says in the Gospel, “the Kingdom of God has drawn near” (Lk 10:11). It is close: it has not yet been reached, it is partly hidden, but close to us. And this closeness to God in Jesus, this closeness to God that is Jesus, is the source of our joy: we are loved and we are never alone. But the joy that comes from being close to God, if it gives peace, does not leave us in peace. He gives peace and does not leave us alone, a special joy. It operates a transformation in us: it amazes us, it surprises, it changes our life. And the encounter with the Lord is a continuous beginning, a continuous step forward. The Lord always changes our life. This is what happens to the disciples in the Gospel: to announce the closeness of God they go far away, they go on mission. Because those who receive Jesus feel that they must imitate him, do like him, that is, leave heaven to serve us on earth, and they come out of themselves. So if we ask ourselves what is our task in the world, what we must do as a Church in history, the gospel answer is clear: assignment. Going on a mission, carrying the announcement, letting it be known that Jesus came from the Father.
As Christians, we cannot be content with living in mediocrity. And it’s a malaise: many Christians, and all of us too, risk living in mediocrity, relying on our opportunities and conveniences, living hand to mouth. No, we are the missionaries of Jesus. We are all missionaries of Jesus. But you can say, “I don’t know what to do, I can’t do it!” “. The Gospel still amazes us, showing us the Lord who sends the disciples without waiting for them to be ready and well formed: they were not with him for very long, yet he sends them. They hadn’t studied theology, yet he sends them. And the way he sends them is also full of surprises. So let’s take three surprises, three things that surprise us, three missionary surprises that Jesus reserves for the disciples and reserves for each one of us, if we listen to him.
The first surprise: equipment. To undertake a mission in unknown places, you have to bring several things, certainly the essentials. Jesus, on the other hand, does not say what to take, but what to not take: “Carry neither purse, nor bag, nor sandals” (v. 4). Virtually nothing: no luggage, no security, no help. We often think that our ecclesial initiatives do not work properly because we lack structures, we lack money, we lack means: this is not true. Jesus himself refutes this. Brothers, sisters, let us not place our trust in riches and let us not fear our poverty, material and human. The more we are free and simple, small and humble, the more the Holy Spirit guides the mission and makes us the protagonists of his marvels. Give way to the Holy Spirit!
For Christ, the fundamental “equipment” is another: the brother. It’s curious. “He sent them… two by two” (v. 1), says the Gospel. Not alone, not alone, always with a brother by their side. Never without the brother, because there is no mission without communion. There is no proclamation that works without caring for others. So, we can ask ourselves: do I, a Christian, think more about what I lack in order to live well, or do I think about getting closer to my brothers and sisters, taking care of them?
We come to the second surprise of the mission: the message. It is logical to think that, to prepare for the announcement, the followers must learn what to say, they must deepen the content, prepare convincing and well-articulated speeches. It’s true. I do that too. Instead, Jesus only leaves them two short sentences. The former even seems superfluous, since it is a greeting: “Into whatever house you enter, first say: ‘Peace to this house!’ (v. 5). In this way, the Lord prescribes how to present oneself, in any place, as peace ambassadors. A Christian always brings peace. A Christian is working to bring peace to this place. This is the distinctive sign: the Christian is a bearer of peace, because Christ is peace. From there, we can recognize if we belong to him. If instead we spread gossip and suspicion, create divisions, prevent fellowship, put our own belonging first, we are not acting in the name of Jesus. Those who foment resentment, incite hatred and crush others, do not bring peace. Today, dear brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace and reconciliation in your homeland, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so bruised and exploited. We join in the Masses celebrated in the country for this intention, and pray that Christians will be witnesses of peace, capable of overcoming any feeling of resentment, any feeling of revenge, of overcoming the temptation that reconciliation is not possible. , any unhealthy attachment to one’s own group that leads to contempt for others.
Brother, sister, peace begins with us; it starts from me and from you, from each of us, from the heart of each of us. If you live his peace, Jesus comes and your family, your society changes. They change if first of all your heart is not at war, it is not armed with resentment and anger, it is not divided, it is not hypocritical, it is not false. Putting peace and order in one’s own heart, defusing greed, quenching hatred and resentment, fleeing from corruption, fleeing from cheating and trickery: this is where peace begins. We would always like to meet gentle, good, peaceful people, starting with our relatives and neighbors. But Jesus said:You bring peace to your home, you start by honoring your wife and loving her with your heart, respecting and caring for your children, your elders and your neighbors. Brother and sister, please live in peace, kindle peace, and peace will dwell in your home, in your Church, in your country”.
After the greeting of peace, the rest of the message entrusted to the disciples is reduced to the few words with which we began, and which Jesus repeats twice: “The Kingdom of God has come near to you. […] The Kingdom of God has come near” (vv. 9-11). Announce the nearness of God, which is his style; God’s style is clear: closeness, compassion and tenderness. This is God’s style. Announcing the closeness of God, that is the essential. Hope and conversion come from here: to believe that God is near and watches over us: he is our Father to all, who wants us all to be brothers and sisters. If we live under this gaze, the world will no longer be a battlefield, but a garden of peace; history will not be a race to finish first, but a shared pilgrimage. All this – let us remember – does not require great speeches, but a few words and a lot of testimonies. And then we can ask ourselves: do those who meet me see me as a witness to the peace and closeness of God, or as a restless, angry, impatient, belligerent person? Am I showing Jesus or am I obscuring him with these belligerent attitudes?
After equipment and the messagethe third surprise of the mission concerns our style. Jesus asks his disciples to go out into the world “like lambs among wolves” (v. 3). The common sense of the world says the opposite: assert yourself, excel! Christ, on the other hand, wants us to be lambs, not wolves. That doesn’t mean being naive – no, please! – but abhor any instinct of supremacy and imposition, of greed and possession. Those who live like lambs do not attack, they are not voracious; they stay in the herd, with others, and find security in the Shepherd, not in force or arrogance, not in the greed for money and goods which causes so much harm also in the Democratic Republic of Congo . The disciple of Jesus rejects violence, does no harm to anyone: he is peaceful, he loves everyone. And if that seems to fail, he turns to his Shepherd, Jesus, the Lamb of God who conquered the world in this way, on the cross. In this way he conquered the world. And do I live – we ask again – like a lamb, like Jesus, or like a wolf, as the spirit of the world teaches, that spirit which fuels war? This spirit which makes war, which destroys.
May the Lord help us to be missionaries today, in the company of our brother and our sister, with the peace and closeness of God on our lips; carrying in our hearts the gentleness and goodness of Jesus, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
Moto azali na matói my koyóka [Those who have ears to hear]
Moto azali na motéma mwa kondíma [Those who have a heart to assent]