ROME — Evangelization is the mission and joy of the church, Pope Francis told members of the Missionaries of Africa.
Apostles of Jesus Christ do not proselytize, he said in an audience at the Vatican June 13 with members who were in Rome for the society’s general chapter May 13-June 19.
Proclaiming the Gospel is “something else. The apostle is not a manager, he is not an expert lecturer, he is not an IT wizard, the apostle is a witness,” he said.
“This is true always and everywhere in the church, but it is especially true for those who, like you, are often called to live mission” in places where Islam is the predominant religion or where the people have never known Christ and the Gospel, he said.
The society of the Missionaries of Africa is an international group of priests and brothers who dedicate their lives to the proclamation of the Gospel, especially in Africa and for people from Africa, wherever they may be.
“The world changes, Africa changes too,” but that gift of mission as prophetic witness “retains its power of meaning and strength” nonetheless, and this gift is nourished when it leads to Christ and the Gospel, the pope said.
A missionary must spend time in God’s presence, “letting him look at you, every day, in adoration,” he said, as this “remaining” in Christ is the “lifeblood” and condition for being an apostle.
“The paradox of mission is you can only go forth if you remain. If you are not able to remain in the Lord, you cannot go,” the pope added.
“Evangelization is the mission of the church, evangelization in the joy of the church,” he said.