Pope Francis said Wednesday that Christians who are always resentful and full of complaints are not credible witnesses to the Gospel because joy is an essential ingredient for evangelization.
“Humanity abounds with brothers and sisters waiting for a word of hope,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 15.
The pope explained that people today, like people of all times, need the Gospel and need Jesus, especially living in a society with “institutionalized secularity” that “leaves the spaces of religious meaning deserted.”
“This is the right moment to proclaim Jesus,” Pope Francis underlined.
“Immersed in today’s fast-paced and confused environment, we too indeed may find ourselves living our faith with a subtle sense of resignation, persuaded that the Gospel is no longer heard and no longer worth striving to proclaim. We might even be tempted by the idea of letting ‘others’ go their own way,” he added.
“Yet this is precisely the time to return to the Gospel to discover that Christ is always young and a constant source of newness.”
“The Gospel is a proclamation of joy,” he said. “The Gospel is a smile, it makes you smile because it touches the soul with the good news.”
Francis explained: “This is why a Christian who is discontented, a sad Christian, a dissatisfied, or worse still, resentful or rancorous Christian, is not credible. This person will talk about Jesus but no one will believe him!”
The pope advised Christians to “keep watch over one’s sentiments” and to remember “the joy of having the risen Jesus.”
Quoting Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis said: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”
Pope Francis has led a series of nearly weekly reflections on “the passion for evangelization” since January at his Wednesday general audiences.
In the evangelization series, the pope has shared the stories of saints whom he views as some of the best models for spreading the Gospel, including St. Paul, St. Francis Xavier, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and St. Juan Diego.
The series also featured the stories of lesser-known witnesses to the faith such as Venerable Madeleine Delbrêl, Blessed José Gregorio Hernández, Venerable Matteo Ricci, St. Andrew Kim Taegon, St. Mary MacKillop, and St. Daniele Comboni.
At the end of his general audience, the pope encouraged people to remember to pray for peace every day.
“Let us pray, brothers and sisters, for peace, especially for the battered Ukraine that suffers so much, and then in the Holy Land, in Palestine and Israel, and let us not forget Sudan that suffers so much, and think wherever there is war, there are so many wars! Let’s pray for peace — every day take some time to pray for peace. We want peace,” Pope Francis said.