Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle encouraged people not to be intimidated by the concept of “evangelization,” but to remember that it can be a simple human interaction or conversation between friends, family, coworkers, or social media followers.
“Sometimes we make things very complicated. ‘Evangelization’, is a conversation. It’s a conversation about Jesus,” Tagle said Saturday night in his closing speech at the Vatican priests’ conference.
“Simple human interaction or conversation centered on the Word of Life that fosters unity, I think should be encouraged in our time, especially in families, schools, workplaces, recreation centers, hospitals, social media , during coffee breaks and simple gatherings of friends,” he said.
Cardinal Tagle, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, was asked to deliver the closing address Feb. 19 of a three-day Vatican conference on the theology of the priesthood.
Pope Francis opened the conference Thursday with a reflection about his more than 52 years of priesthood.
In a very animated speech, Cardinal Tagle said that “the mission forms community, which in turn becomes the flame that lights up other missionaries.”
The cardinal shared that one of the delegates at the 2018 Synod of Bishops (on youth) had told him that his friends’ experience of the Church was of priests who were ‘angry, impatient, unapproachable,’” and who “criticize to people during homilies and talk ‘always about rules’”.
Cardinal Tagle added that listening to testimonies like this led him to reflect on the joy in the lives of the baptized.
“There are many reasons why we feel tired, empty and joyless. But I asked myself: Is it possible that one of the reasons for the loss of joy in a baptized person or in a church minister is the lack or weakening of the sense of mission, he said.
“Without commitment to mission, the priesthood of the baptized or consecrated life and the ministerial priesthood are deprived of joy. Why? Because the priesthood of Christ is intrinsically tied to his mission,” he added.
Tagle’s speech marked the end of the summit broadcast live and titled “For a fundamental theology of the priesthood”, which took place from February 17 to 19 in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican. The symposium will first announced in April 2021.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, organized the meeting together with the Research and Anthropology Center for Vocations based in France.
The third and last day of the conference was dedicated to “Celibacy, charisms and spirituality”.
“The priesthood of Jesus is completely missionary and continues to be so because He eternally intercedes for his brothers and sisters before the Father in the heavenly sanctuary,” said the Cardinal.
“The priesthood of Jesus is an entirely missionary life. Take away the mission, there will be no joy, there will be no joy, in those who participate in the priesthood of Christ in baptism, in other states of life, and in the ministerial priesthood, ”he assured.
Cardinal Tagle reflected on the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
“Those whom Jesus loves are those whom he sends. Dangerous love. The more he loves you, the more he sends you,” he added.
The 64-year-old Filipino cardinal said that being called to “belong to Jesus and share his mission” is not a matter of “creating or promoting one’s own project, but of participating in God’s salvific plan in the missions of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.”
“It is the joy, not of inventing one’s own message, but of proclaiming what has been heard, seen, looked at and touched of the word of life. It is the joy, not of boasting in one’s own knowledge of the Lord, but of being humbly led by the Holy Ghost’s testimony about Jesus,” he said.
“It’s the joy, not of being obsessed with achievements, titles – ‘Oh, I have a Ph.D., you just have a master’s degree.’ I deserve the cathedral. You deserve a village parish. That is not joy. It’s the obsession with achievement.”
“It is the joy of gratitude to Him who makes weak and sinful disciples strong by His grace. We want every baptized Christian to experience the joy of being a missionary disciple,” he concluded.
Translated and adapted by Diego López Marina. Originally posted on CNA.