Encouraging Comboni missionaries in their service worldwide, Pope Francis says missionaries united to the Lord “are channels of God’s love” and insists that we can bear fruit only when driven by Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
What we do is totally dependent on Christ and the Holy Spirit. For without God, we cannot do anything.
Pope Francis offered this reminder to Comboni Missionaries in the Vatican on Saturday, as they gathered in Rome for their General Chapter.
Founded in 1867 by St. Daniel Comboni, the Comboni Missionaries are an international Catholic organization dedicated to ministering to the world’s poorest and most abandoned people, often working in unstable political climate, in the midst of extreme poverty.
There are currently some 3,500 Comboni missionaries [family] across the globe, operating in around 41 countries.
‘Without me, you can do nothing’
In his remarks, the Pope thanked the missionaries for all they do and recalled the theme and motto of their Chapter: “‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’ Rooted in Christ together with Comboni.”
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Reflecting upon the motto, the Pope stressed that mission requires totally depending on being united to Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis reminded them that Jesus insisted to His Apostles: ‘Without me, you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).
“He did not say: “you can do little.” No. He said: “you can do nothing”. In what sense? We can do many things: initiatives, programmes, campaigns… many things; but if we are not in Him, and if His Spirit does not pass through us, everything we do is nothing in His eyes, that is, it is worth nothing for the Kingdom of God.”
If we instead are like branches well attached to the vine, the Pope said, “the sap of the Spirit passes from Christ into us and whatever we do bears fruit” because Christ’s love is working through us.
Great missionaries ‘driven’ by the Heart of Christ
Missionaries, Pope Francis highlighted, are so united to their Lord “that their hands, minds, and heart “are ‘channels’ of Christ’s love.”
“This is why some great missionaries, such as Daniel Comboni, but also, for example, Mother Cabrini, lived their mission feeling animated and ‘driven’ by the Heart of Christ. And this ‘drive’ allowed them to go out and go beyond: not only beyond geographical limits and boundaries, but first and foremost beyond their own personal limits.”
“The impetus of the Holy Spirit,” the Pope continued, “is the one that makes us leave ourselves, our closures, our self-referentiality, and makes us go towards others, towards the peripheries, where the thirst for the Gospel is greatest.”
The essential traits of the Heart of Christ, the Holy Father recalled, are mercy, compassion, and tenderness. He said they make up “a universal language, which knows no boundaries.”
The Pope lamented that there are various religious communities that become places of jealousy, power struggles, and rules, where love is lacking, and called for a conversion of individual consciences that helps renew the communities and institutes.
Everything in docility to Holy Spirit
The Holy Father reiterated that everything “must be done in docility to the Spirit.”
Responding to the demands of evangelisation in “the style of the Beatitudes,” the Pope concluded, “is what counts.”