Pope: Become an apostle for the Church through prayer, preaching and testimony
The topic of becoming apostles was the focus of Wednesdays General Audience at St. Peters Square. Pope Francis explained why the Church is considered "Apostolicâ? and what that means for Christians today.
Going back to the early roots of the Catholic Church, he said that Jesus chose his Apostles to carry on his work. They established the foundation for the modern day Catholic Church. But he added that they always kept the two basic duties as Apostles: to pray and preach.
"When we think of the successors to the Apostles: bishops, all bishops, because even the Pope is a bishop, we need to ask ourselves do the successors to the Apostles pray, first of all, and do they preach the Gospel? Because that is what it means to be an apostle, and that's why the Church is Apostolic.â?
The Pope went on to say that another reason why the Church is Apostolic is that it embodies the full teachings of Christ. They were passed along from the Apostles to their successors. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, he added, the Church brings those teachings to people today.
"The source is Christ himself. He is Risen, He is alive, and his words will never go away because He will never go away. He is alive, He is here with us. He hears us when we speak to him. He listens. He is in our hearts. Jesus is with us today.â?
The third reason the Church is Apostolic, Pope Francis said, is its missionary role. He asked each one of the 100,000 pilgrims if they are "sacristy Christiansâ? or if their words and actions make them witnesses to the faith. The Pope added the Church must look towards the future to keep the teachings of Christ alive.
"A Church that closes itself, in the past, a Church that only focuses on small rules, habits and attitudes, is a Church that betrays its own identity. A closed Church that betrays its own identity.â?
Near the end of the General Audience, Pope Francis also recalled the 35th anniversary of the election of John Paul II. He invoked his intercession to bless all of the people gathered at St. Peter's Square.
In fact there were so many people, that not all of them fit inside the Square. Before starting the audience, the Pope rode through the crowd on board his Popemobile.
Aside from kissing babies and children, one of the most memorable moments happened when he tried on a fireman's helmet before a group of Italian firefighters.