Pope's focus on 'basic mission' of Apostles

The basic mission of Jesus' Twelve Apostles and of those who evangelise today is not to spread an idea, but to lead people to Jesus and gather them into a single family, Benedict XVI said.

Addressing some 35,000 people in St Peter's Square yesterday for his weekly general audience, the pope gave the second in a series of talks about the apostles and the church.

In each of the four Gospels, he said, Jesus' call of the Twelve Apostles is the first step of his public ministry following his baptism in the Jordan River.

Pope Benedict said that, especially in the Gospel of Luke, "the call to follow him comes after they have listened to Jesus' first preaching and experienced the first marvelous signs he performed," especially the episode in which they catch a huge net full of fish after having little success.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus asks his future disciples, "What are you looking for?" and they ask him, "Where do you live?"

"Jesus' response is an invitation, 'Come and see,' 'Come in order to see.' The adventure of the apostles begins as an encounter between individuals who open themselves to one another. The disciples begin to have direct knowledge of the Master," the pope said.

"In fact, they are not called to announce an idea, but to give witness to a person," he said. "Before being sent to evangelise, they must stay with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with him."

Once Jesus died and rose again, it became clear that the apostles' mission was to go to all nations, making them disciples of Jesus, Pope Benedict said.

Setting aside his prepared text, the pope said: "This mission continues. The mandate of the Lord always is to gather all people in the unity of his love and his faith.

"This is our hope and our mandate: to contribute to this universality, this true unity with the richness of (different) cultures in communion with Our Lord Jesus Christ," he said.

Pope says main task of evangelizers is to lead people to Jesus (Catholic News Service 22/3/06)

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23 Mar 2006