LOS ANGELES, California — When asked in a new interview what specific mission he has for the laity, Pope Francis responded with a frequent appeal: to go outside of oneself and take risks in evangelising, rather than staying stuffed up at home while the moths move in.
“Sometimes I think the best business we can do with many Christians, is to sell them mothballs so that they put them in their clothes and in their lives and aren’t eaten by moths,” the Pope said in the interview.
The interviewer, journalist Noel Díaz, had questioned the Pope about a comment he had made to him on a previous occasion to “tell the laity to come out of the caves.” When asked about the comment and what mission he would give to the laity with that image in mind, Francis said that many times Christians “are locked up and they are going to get eaten by moths”.
“They have to go out, they have to go and bring the message of Jesus” to others, he said, explaining that the Good News is meant to be shared, not stored away.
“The message of Jesus is to give it; so just as I receive it from him through a brother or sister, the grace comes to me and I give it,” he said, stressing that Christians shouldn’t “can” the message, trying to conserve it in a jar, because “it’s not to save, it’s to give”.
By taking the Good News and then delivering it to others, “in this way I leave the cave,” he said, and stressed the importance of practising the works of mercy, which are “the backbone of the Gospel” and what we will eventually be judged on.
Pope Francis gave his interview to El Sembrador Nueva Evangelización – ESNE TV and Radio station, a non-profit established in Los Angeles in 1994 and which is currently headed by Díaz, the station’s founder and director. The interview was conducted on 22 November, and was broadcast 29 January.
In the interview, conducted in the Pope’s native Spanish tongue, Díaz noted how Francis frequently calls for Christians to be joyful rather than sour, going out to the streets and making the Gospel message known to those who are far off.
When asked by the journalist what Christians lack in order for this to become the norm, the Pope said there is a need for greater “courage, since we are comfortable and comfort betrays us.”
Pointing to the “apostolic zeal” of St Paul, the Pope said he had the “courage to go out”, which is something Christians ought to grow in if they want “to bring what we have received” to others.
Apart from courage, the Pope said that in his own personal view, something that is often missing is prayer: “prayer is lacking… because without prayer there is no courage, there is a lack of intercession”.
“We have to pray more and go out, but always with prayer, because I go out with the Lord,” he said, explaining that prayer is what unites us to God.
He pointed specifically to meditating on Scripture through Lectio Divina, saying “this is a very beautiful exercise and all of us have a quarter of an hour to do it, to take the bible, a little piece, and reflect a bit”.
Francis was also asked what kind of legacy he would like to leave with the Church, and responded with many ideas that have already become trademarks of his papacy: “a Church that goes out is one, open doors, Christians going out on the streets, Christians who are convinced, a prayerful Church”.
Touching on what he said is a “key point”, Pope Francis said there is a great need for Christians “who know how to adore the Lord”.
After sitting in silent adoration, “one leaves with the strength of knowing that there is someone above, that it’s the Lord,” he said, adding that the ability to adore is “the greatest strength” of the spiritual life, since many times our prayers are “petty”.
Many time people go to the Lord asking him to give them something or to solve a problem, he said, noting that “those who give thanks are fewer”.
God, he said, “loves us, he gives us a hand and arranges things” when we ask, but “to adore, which few know how to adore, to adore God who is the Lord in this world” is rare, but essential.
Another legacy the Pope said he wants to leave is a sense of awareness in every Christian home, family and people that “the spirit of the world is not from God, it’s the antithesis of God”.
It’s because of this that Jesus at the Last Supper prays not for his disciples to be taken out of the world, but to be “defended” from it, he said, pointing to money as a key cause of worldliness.
“Worldliness begins with money, the devil enters through the pockets, in money… it gives you security, (but) a security that isn’t from God,” he said, explaining that money eventually leads to vanity, which then leads to pride, “and from hence all sins” come.
Francis was then asked to send a message to a specific groups of people – youth, elderly, parish priests and single mothers – when the interviewer mentioned them, before offering a special greeting to the station and its viewers.
Today’s Catholic Vol.29 No.11 February 2017