Something to ponder: An interesting read about the Francis papacy in the post-Benedict XVI era: MondayVatican – Vatican » Pope Francis, what kind of a future has just begun? | MondayVatican
PAPAL AUDIENCE FOCUS IS APOSTOLIC ZEAL: POPE ASKS PRAYERS FOR MURDERED NIGERIAN PRIEST AND SUFFERING UKRAINIANS
Pope Francis began today’s general audience by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on apostolic zeal, the desire to share with others the joy of the Gospel, we now look to its model and source: the example of Jesus himself. As the eternal Word of God, made flesh for our salvation, Jesus’ entire life was devoted to communicating and dialoguing with others, first with his heavenly Father in profound prayer, and then with others, especially the poor, the outcast and sinners.!
Francis explained that Jesus “proclaimed the coming of God’s Kingdom not only by his preaching, but also by his ministry of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. As the Good Shepherd, the model for all pastors in the Church, Jesus was completely committed to the welfare of his flock, protecting the fold yet also setting out in search of the lost sheep.
“And when we hear that someone has left the Church, what do we want to say? ‘Let them work it out?’ No. Jesus teaches us to have nostalgia for those who have left. Jesus does not feel anger or resentment but pure longing for us. Jesus feels nostalgic for us and this is God’s zeal.
The Holy Father said he wondered “we, do we have similar sentiments? Perhaps we see those who have left the flock as adversaries or enemies. ‘And this person? Hasn’t he gone to the other side? She lost her faith…. They are going to hell…’ and we are serene.!
“When we meet them at school, at work, on the streets of our city,” he continued, “why don’t we think instead that we have a beautiful opportunity to witness to them the joy of a Father who loves them and has never forgotten them? Not to proselytize, no! But that the Word of the Father might reach them so we can walk together. … Because the Word, Jesus, asks this of us – to always draw near to everyone with an open heart because he is like that.”
Pope Francis concluded: “Following his example, may we, in our daily lives, draw joy and strength from our union with the Father in prayer, allow our hearts to be shaped by pastoral zeal for the word of God, and strive, in all our words and actions, to share with others its saving message.”
During greetings to English-language pilgrims the Pope said, “I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Australia and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the many student groups present.
“I ask all of you to join me in praying for Father Isaac Achi of the Diocese of Minna in northern Nigeria, who was killed last Sunday in an attack on his rectory. So many Christians continue to be the target of violence: let us remember them in our prayers! Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!
The terrorists set fire to the rectory and Fr. Achi burned to death. They shot and wounded the assistant priest as he tried to flee.
Francis also highlighted Ukraine, as he has done in every public address for almost a year. He asked everyone to pray for Ukrainians who need “our closeness, consolation, and above all peace.”
CITY GETS A FACELIFT FOR PAPAL VISIT
As you know, Pope Francis leaves on January 31 for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then South Sudan. We are now learning, via a report from Reuters, that the government in Kinshasa is clearing the city’s streets of vendors so that the Pope sees a sanitized city, much as happened when U.S. President Biden recently visited El Paso, Texas, a city that has been overwhelmed by massive numbers of migrants in the last two years. Biden saw no migrants, no crowded housing facilities, no make-shift tents on El Paso streets.
The January 17 Reuters story starts: “Before dawn, sanitary police armed with crowbars and a bulldozer set about demolishing makeshift trader stalls crowding downtown streets in the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of a four-day visit by Pope Francis starting Jan. 31. Kinshasa has 17 million people. Police demolish trader stalls in Congo capital ahead of Pope visit | Reuters