Mi?rcoles, 04 de diciembre de 2013

Homilía del Cardenal Fernando Filoni, Prefecto de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos, durante la misa solemne presidida ayer por la tarde, 2 de diciembre, en la Catedral de la Archidiócesis de Castries, en la apertura oficial del Año de la Evangelización

HOMILY. Mass in Saint Lucia - First Monday of Advent and Beginning of the Year Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Castries

 (Is 4:2-6, Ps. 121, Mt. 8:5-11)

December 2, 2013 

1.  Greetings:  My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is truly a great joy for me to celebrate this Eucharistic Liturgy with you on the beautiful island nation of Saint Lucia. For this I would like to thank His Grace, Archbishop Robert Rivas, O.P., for his warm welcome. I would also like to greet (Archbishop emeritus Kelvin Edward Felix), the priests, religious and faithful here present for this Advent Mass. Today we not only celebrate the first days of the Season of Advent, but we also mark the beginning of the Year of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Castries, an initiative intended to renew the Church in Saint Lucia by re-igniting enthusiasm for the proclamation of the Gospel.

2.  Liturgical Context:  In today’s liturgical readings we encounter the mercy and compassion of God, who is always faithful to his promises and never betrays his covenant with his people. The readings call us to a deep trust in God, who reveals himself fully in Jesus Christ, as the One who brings healing and joy to those who place their faith and trust in him. Today’s Gospel also has a universal missionary aspect, with Jesus curing the servant of a Roman centurion, who did not believe in the God of Abraham, but nevertheless put his confidence in Jesus. In response, Christ declares that the pagan nations will, indeed, share in the salvation once promised to the Patriarchs. “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you many will come from the east and the west and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”

The mission to proclaim the Gospel to the nations, inviting everyone to God’s banquet, has been entrusted by the Lord to the Church, which he founded as a universal communion, with Peter as the head of the Apostolic College,  and the first to announce the Resurrection after Pentecost.

As the Second Vatican Council teaches that “the pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father” (Ad Gentes nr.2).  Because the communion of the Church extends throughout the world, this missionary orientation applies also to the Church in the Caribbean and on the island of Saint Lucia.  As Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I would like to assure of your importance in the Church’s universal task of proclaiming the Gospel.

3.  Year of Evangelization:  Last October, Pope Francis, speaking to the pilgrims participating in the Sunday Angelus Prayer, quoting Saint Paul, said: “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God” (2 Tim 1:8).” The Holy Father then added: “This, however, is for us all; each one of us in our own daily lives can testify to Christ by the power of God, the power of faith. The faith we have is miniscule, but it is strong! With this power to testify to Jesus Christ, to be Christians with our life, with our witness!”

A few weeks later, on Mission Sunday, the Holy Father specified that “the mission of the Church… [is] to spread throughout the world the flame of faith which Jesus kindled in the world: faith in God who is Father, Love, Mercy. The method of Christian mission is not proselytism but rather that of sharing the flame that warms the soul. I wish to thank all those who through their prayer and practical help support missionary work, especially the work of the Bishop of Rome to spread the Gospel. (Angelus 06/10/13)!”

Today, the Church in Saint Lucia begins the Year of Evangelization, an initiative meant to deepen the faith of those who already know Christ; to re-ignite enthusiasm for sharing this faith with those who do not yet know the Lord and with those who have wandered away from the Church. Let us take to heart the Holy Father’s invitation to go out to the peripheries, to bear witness to our Faith in Christ and our love for his Church, inviting others to share in this precious gift.

Last July, in his address to the Leadership of the Episcopal Conferences of Latin America in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis called the Church in Latin America and in the Caribbean to a Missionary Discipleship, which he described as follows:

“Missionary discipleship is a vocation: a call and an invitation. It is given in the “today”, but also “in tension”. There is no such thing as static missionary discipleship. A missionary disciple cannot be his own master; his immanence is in tension towards the transcendence of discipleship and towards the transcendence of mission. It does not allow for self-absorption: either it points to Jesus Christ or it points to the people to whom he must be proclaimed…. the position of missionary disciples is not in the centre but at the periphery: they live poised towards the peripheries… including the peripheries of eternity, in the encounter with Jesus Christ. In the preaching of the Gospel, to speak of “existential peripheries” decentralizes things; as a rule, we are afraid to leave the centre. The missionary disciple is someone “off centre”: the centre is Jesus Christ, who calls us and sends us forth” (CELAM address 28/07/13).

Missionary discipleship includes those who dedicate their whole lives, exclusively for the proclamation of the Gospel. I, therefore, invite you to invite young people to respond to the Lord’s call to the priesthood and to religious life. Both of these two different types of vocations are indispensable for the life and mission of the Church.

4.  Conclusion:  In conclusion, I would like to assure all of you that the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples knows well the efforts you make in being faithful to the Lord and in bearing fruitful witnesses of Christ. To your Bishop, to the Bishops of this Metropolitan See, and to all of the Bishops of the Antilles, who are dedicated shepherds of God’s people, I say thank you for your tireless efforts in teaching the Faith in its integrity and in fostering ever deeper communion with each other and with the Holy Father. To the priests in Saint Lucia, I am grateful for every initiative that fosters greater collaboration with your Bishop and more zealous service of God’s people. To the religious, who strive to be living examples of Christ’s poverty, chastity and obedience, I thank you for your witness and for you generous collaboration in the pastoral tasks entrusted to you. Thanks also to the members of different lay associations and ecclesial movements that have instilled a greater enthusiasm for the Faith. Finally, I would like to express my tanks to all of you dedicated lay faithful, for all you do to build bonds of communion in your local parishes and for taking the values and precepts of the Gospel into the public square. It is through such efforts that St. Lucian society becomes more respectful of the dignity of every human life, more supportive of marriage and the family, more compassionate to the poor, and more just in its social structures.

As Prefect of the Missionary Dicastery, I assure you of my prayers and spiritual support, as I offer you to God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Lucia, and of all the saints. May God send his bountiful blessings upon you all!


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