“From the beginning, Jesus wants his to be a church on the move, a church that goes out into the world. And he wants it to do this just as he did.”

July 31, 2016

Cross-posted from Josh McElwee and NCR

In a Mass with the country’s bishops, priests and religious at a shrine dedicated to the memory of their hero-Pope John Paul II, the pontiff said the Gospel “still has many blank pages left.”

“It remains an open book that we are called to write in the same style, by the works of mercy we practice,” the pope continued, asking the clergy: “What are the pages of your books like? Are they blank?”

“By serving those who suffer we honor the flesh of Christ,” Francis exhorted.  The event was the only occasion during Francis’ Wednesday-Sunday visit to Poland dedicated specifically to the country’s clergy, and the pontiff took advantage of the opportunity to again outline his vision for the Catholic church.

20160730T0509-039-CNS-POPE-POLAND-MERCY-SHRINE_0 with Polish clergy

Reflecting on the story in John’s Gospel about how the apostles locked themselves in an upper room in fear following Jesus’ death, the pope said Jesus’ appearance to them was a reminder that he wants his followers not to be locked up but to be going out.

“Jesus sends,” said Francis. “From the beginning, he wants his to be a church on the move, a church that goes out into the world. And he wants it to do this just as he did.”

“He was not sent into the world by the father to wield power, but to take the form of a slave; he came not ‘to be served, but to serve’ and to bring the Good News,” said the pope.

“In our lives as priests and consecrated persons, we can often be tempted to remain enclosed, out of fear or convenience, within ourselves and in our surroundings,” said the pontiff.

“But Jesus directs us to a one-way street: that of going forth from ourselves,” he continued. “It is a one-way trip, with no return ticket. It involves making an exodus from ourselves, losing our lives for his sake and setting out on the path of self-gift.”