The pope asked the crowd to reflect on three questions first posed by Paul VI in his apostolic exhortation on evangelization in the modern world, Evangelii Nuntiandi: “Do you believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you preach what you live?”
Pope Francis arrives at the general audience March 22, 2023, in the popemobile to a Florentine flag corps performance by a group that seeks to preserve Tuscany’s medieval and Renaissance traditions. Vatican Media
Pope Francis emphasized that holiness is “not reserved for a few” but is “a gift from God that demands to be received and made to bear fruit for ourselves and for others.”
“Paul VI teaches that the zeal for evangelization springs from holiness, springs from a heart that is full of God,” he said.
“Nourished by prayer and above all by love for the Eucharist, evangelization, in turn, increases holiness in those who carry it out.”
A reading from the New Testament was proclaimed in different languages at the Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square on March 22, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Because of the importance of bearing witness to the Gospel, Pope Francis said that it is necessary for the Church to constantly be “evangelizing herself.”
“Indeed, ‘she needs to listen unceasingly to what she must believe, to her reasons for hoping, to the new commandment of love. She is the people of God immersed in the world, and often tempted by idols … and she always needs to hear the proclamation of the mighty works of God … this means that she has a constant need of being evangelized if she wishes to retain freshness, vigor, and strength in order to proclaim the Gospel,’” he said, quoting Evangelii Nuntiandi.
“A Church that evangelizes herself in order to evangelize is a Church that, guided by the Holy Spirit, is required to walk a demanding path of continuous conversion and renewal,” he added.
A traditional Florentine flag corps performs for the pope at the general audience on March 22, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA