his sermon on the Sixth Sunday of Easter:
You have a specific and important mission, that of keeping alive the
relationship between the faith and the cultures of the peoples to whom
you belong. You do this through popular piety. When, for example, you
carry the crucifix in procession with such great veneration and love for
the Lord, you are not performing a simple outward act; you are pointing
to the centrality of the Lord’s paschal mystery, his passion, death and
resurrection which have redeemed us, and you are reminding yourselves
first, as well as the community, that we have to follow Christ along the
concrete path of our daily lives so that he can transform us. Likewise,
when you express profound devotion for the Virgin Mary, you are
pointing to the highest realization of the Christian life, the one who
by her faith and obedience to God’s will, and by her meditation on the
words and deeds of Jesus, is the Lord’s perfect disciple (cf. Lumen Gentium,
53). You express this faith, born of hearing the word of God, in ways
that engage the senses, the emotions and the symbols of the different
cultures. . . . In doing so you help to transmit it to others, and
especially the simple persons whom, in the Gospels, Jesus calls “the
little ones”. In effect, “journeying together towards shrines, and
participating in other demonstrations of popular piety, bringing along
your children and engaging other people, is itself a work of
evangelization” (Aparecida Document, 264). When you go to the
shrines, when you bring the family, your children, you are doing the
proper work of evangelization. You must go on doing so! May you also be
true evangelizers! May your initiatives be “bridges”, means of bringing
others to Christ, so as to journey together with him. And in this spirit
may you always be attentive to charity. Each individual Christian and
every community is missionary to the extent that they bring to others
and live the Gospel, and testify to God’s love for all, especially those
experiencing difficulties. Be missionaries of God’s love and
tenderness! You are missionaries of the Mercy of God, which always
pardons us, always awaits us. . . . He loves us so much!
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