The Catholic Church’s mission in the world is to spread the fire of God’s love and must not be limited to the “‘ordinary maintenance’ of those who already know the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.
Celebrating the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon on Sunday 6th October, the pope said, “Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth.”
“If everything continues as it was, if we spend our days content that ‘this is the way things have always been done,’ then the gift vanishes, smothered by the ashes of fear and concern for defending the status quo,” he said.
Among the thousands filling St Peter’s Basilica were members of various indigenous communities from the Amazon region. Some wore traditional headpieces while others painted their faces with ornate designs, proudly displaying the artistry of their cultures.
Several were chosen to present the offertory gifts during the Mass, solemnly walking up to the altar, some barefoot, and reverently bowing after presenting the gifts of bread and wine to the pope.
Jair Reis, one of about 1,200 Maragua Indians living in Brazil’s Amazonas state, attended the Mass. He told Catholic News Service he has received threats from miners who have entered his people’s lands illegally.
“We want our voices to be heard,” he said. “Not for me, but for all the indigenous people of Brazil.”
Picture: Pope Francis raises the Book of the Gospels during the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 4th October. The cover of the book is decorated with an image of the Holy Family. (CNS/Paul Haring).