(Photo: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)
Addressing pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Francis stressed that Jesus has called all of the faithful to spread the message of the Gospel urgently and with a sense of responsibility and humility.
"Jesus is not an isolated missionary, does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples," the pope said in his Angelus reflection, as quoted by The Vatican Today.
"He calls 72 others, and sends them into the villages, two by two, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near," Francis said, sharing from the Gospel of Luke.
"This is very beautiful! Jesus does not want to act alone. He has come to bring to the world the love of God and wants to spread that love with a style of communion and fraternity. For this reason, he forms immediately a community of disciples, which is a missionary community."
The pope added, however, that "the purpose is not to socialize, to spend time together. No, the purpose is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! There is no time to waste in small talk, no need to wait for the consent of all – there is need only of going out and proclaiming."
The peace of Christ is to be brought to everyone, Francis underlined, "and if some do not receive it, then you go on. To the sick is to be brought healing, because God wants to heal man from all evil."
While the faithful have been given the power to defeat the evil one, the pope added, "we should not boast as if we were the protagonists: the protagonist is the Lord [and] His grace."
The joy of the faithful, he said, is only in "being His disciples, His friends."
After his election in March, Francis told the cardinals that the Catholic Church must not become just another charitable group without its divine mission, urging they must stick to the faith's Gospel roots and resist modern temptations.
When he addressed the media for the first time, the pope reminded Catholics that Jesus, not the pope, is at the center of the Church, which he said should be "poor, and for the poor."
The pope has urged church leaders never to give in to discouragement, bitterness or pessimism but to keep focused on their mission. "Let us never give in to the pessimism, to that bitterness, that the devil places before us every day. Let us not give into pessimism and discouragement," he told the cardinals who elected him.
The pope also appointed a group of eight cardinals who will help him bring changes in the church's administration, which has been plagued with scandals.