Rigas, Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral (Latvia)
Monday, 24 September 2018


It is a great pleasure for me to meet with you in this land marked by a journey of recognition, cooperation and friendship between the different Christian churches, which have succeeded in building unity while preserving the unique and rich identity of each. I might say that this is a “lived ecumenism” that is one of Latvia’s special traits. Without a doubt, it is a reason for hope and thanksgiving.

Unity is something that our mission today continues to demand of us. This mission requires us to stop looking at past injuries and self-referential approaches in order to focus on the Master’s prayer. Our mission is to ensure that the music of the Gospel continues to be heard in our public squares.

Some may well say that the times in which we live are complex, that the times are difficult. Others may think that in our societies Christians have less and less margins of action or influence for any number of reasons, such as secularism or individualism. This may not lead to a closed and defensive mentality, even an attitude of resignation. Certainly, we have to admit that these are not easy times, especially for our many brothers and sisters who today, in their flesh, experience exile and even martyrdom for the faith. Yet their witness makes us realize that the Lord continues to call us, asking us to live the Gospel radically, in joy and gratitude. If Christ deemed us worthy to live in these times, at this hour – the only hour we have – we cannot let ourselves be overcome by fear, nor allow this time to pass without living it fully with joyful fidelity. The Lord will give us the strength to make every age, every moment, every situation, an opportunity for communion and reconciliation with the Father and with our brothers and sisters, especially those nowadays considered inferior, worthy of being discarded. If Christ considered us worthy to ensure that the melody of the Gospel be heard, can we fail to do so?

The unity to which the Lord calls us is always a “missionary” unity. It summons us to reach out to the heart of our peoples and cultures, to the postmodern society in which we live, “where new narratives and paradigms are being formed”, and in this way “to bring the word of Jesus to the inmost soul of our cities” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 74). We will carry out this ecumenical mission if we let ourselves be imbued by the Spirit of Jesus. He can “break through the dull categories with which we would enclose him; he constantly amazes us by his divine creativity. Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (ibid., 11).

Dear brothers and sisters, may the music of the Gospel continue to resound in our midst. May its music never cease to inspire our hearts to dream and our eyes to contemplate the life that the Lord calls us, all of us, to live to the full. And to be his disciples in the midst of the world in which we are called to live.

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