By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The church doesn’t need couch-potato Catholics, it needs believers with “apostolic zeal,” willing to preach the uncomfortable words of Christ, Pope Francis said.
“And if we annoy people” with this zeal for Christ, then “blessed be the Lord,” he said in his daily morning Mass homily May 16.
The pope celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives, for employees of Vatican Radio and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The pope concelebrated the Mass with Cardinal Peter Turkson and Bishop Mario Toso, respectively president and secretary of the justice and peace council.
In his homily, the pope talked about the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles. St Paul caused a near riot during his trial in Jerusalem when he addressed a group of men divided over the belief in the resurrection of the dead.
“Paul is a nuisance” in his preaching, his work and his attitude, the pope said, “because he proclaims Jesus Christ.”
Evangelization “makes us uncomfortable; many times our comfort zones, even Christian comfort zones, are bothered” by it, he said.
God wants people to always move forward, even despite the trials and obstacles, and to not “take refuge in an easy life or in a cozy world.”
St. Paul, by preaching the Lord, “annoyed people,” but he kept at it “because he had that very Christian attitude inside of apostolic zeal, he had real apostolic fervor,” the pope said.
“He wasn’t a man of compromise. No. The truth goes forward, proclaiming Jesus Christ goes forward,” he said.
Apostolic zeal is not a drive for power, to obtain things, the pope said, but “something that comes from inside that the Lord wants from us.”
It does not come from any intellectual or scientific knowledge of Jesus, though “that is important because it helps us.” Rather, this zeal comes from a real living, personal encounter with the Lord.
But going forward and sharing Jesus with the world meant St. Paul always found himself in trouble, not because he wanted to create trouble, but it was trouble for God’s sake, Pope Francis said.
Though apostolic zeal happens with love, there is “something crazy” about it, “a spiritual craziness, a healthy craziness.”
Apostolic zeal is not just for missionaries, it is for everyone, the pope said, and he asked that people pray to the Holy Spirit for this gift.
There are “lukewarm Christians” in the church who “don’t feel like going forward,” he said.
“There are even couch-potato Christians, right? Those who are well-mannered, all perfect, but they don’t know how to bring people to the church” with evangelization and zeal.
“Today let us ask the Holy Spirit to give this apostolic fervor to all of us and also the grace to be a nuisance to the things that are too quiet in the church” and go to the “outskirts” of life, he said.