Pope Francis greets Sisters from the Maestre Pie Filippini Institute, and pilgrims from the Italian dioceses of Viterbo and Civitavecchia-Tarquinia, which included children making their First Communion, and underlines that we cannot be content with “teaching” Jesus if we do not bear witness to Him.
The Sisters and pilgrims were gathered in the Vatican to mark the 350th anniversary of the birth of St Lucia Filippini, their foundress and an educator who put Jesus at the centre of her life.
Teaching and mission
Reflecting on the work of the Institute and the word Maestre, which means teachers, the Pope focused on a proverb which says that “one does not teach what one knows, but what one is.”
He explained that “we transmit to others what we are inside. It is not enough to fill one’s head with ideas, that is not educating; to educate is to transmit life.”
“To be a teacher is to live a mission,” he said.
He urged the Sisters to follow the example of their Foundress, who he said, “can help you to live this mission.”
Transmission of faith
Pope Francis noted that St Lucia knew how to teach so many, first of all, because she herself never ceased to be a disciple of Jesus the Teacher and to stand before Him at the foot of the cross.
He went on to say that the Saint transmitted through education what she kept in her heart, that is, a love of God.
The Pope underlined that one cannot be content with “teaching” Jesus if we are not witnesses to Him.
“This is how faith is transmitted,” he said.
“God is only communicated if He dwells in our lives, if He fills our affections, if He unites our thoughts and inspires our actions.”
The proof of this, Pope Francis emphasized, “is our openness to others: those who know the Lord do not shut themselves away in the sacristy, but live to serve, without caring where or what they are asked to do.”
Dealing with problems
Turning his attention to the difficulties of religious life and the lack of vocations, he offered some advice, which he said, was not an immediate solution to these problems but a way to deal with them.
He reminded those gathered “to live consecration as a call to service. This is what allows Jesus to work in us as He wishes.”
He added that “we will be good teachers if we remain disciples, called each day to serve, with joy.”
St Lucia’s secret
In conclusion, Pope Francis revealed that St Lucia Filippini had a secret: “She lived with a constant trust in God, because He, she said, ‘cannot let go of being my Father’.”
Often, in life, we worry because we have to leave many things behind: some security, the years of youth, an aspect of health, perhaps loved ones, said the Pope.
“If in life there are people and things that sooner or later we have to leave behind, there is a presence that will never leave us, a fundamental certainty that will always accompany us and that nothing and no one will ever be able to erase: God cannot let go of being my father. Everything can fail us, but not the tenderness of God.”
Let us always remember this, said Pope Francis, “especially in dark times: God never abandons us, because He cannot let go of being our Father.”
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.