How does Jesus train his Disciples to be missionaries?

I shall start with a short story.

A master of calligraphy shook his head on seeing a pupil’s exercise and asked: “Have you ever seen anything worse?”. The pupil, mortified and embarrassed, replied shyly: “Yes”, and pulled out from under the desk a bundle of rough copies he had made previously, each worse than the last.

For this reflection, I am now sharing with you, I tried several times to work out the thought and organize the material, but each attempt proved less satisfactory. Although the theme seems simple, it is not. “How does Jesus train his disciples to be missionaries?”. It is a demanding question to which we can only give some partial answers in an effort to understand better what the Gospels let us glimpse. Jesus did not draw up a formative project or a ratio formationis, clearly defining the purpose, path, method, or the criteria of his formative action. Yet a plan is not lacking. He first taught the disciples to “sit down and count the cost”, to foresee and provide for what is necessary, before starting to build a tower (cf. Lk 14:28-39). There is no specific method or pedagogic style. From the very beginning of his preaching ministry people were astonished and recognized something special about this teacher: “He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mk 1:21).

So what are these characteristics? We look for them in the Gospels, without the certainty of having understood everything properly, without any claim to completeness or precision, but with humility, ready to be surprised and a little afraid of ruining their beauty.

My proposed reflection is divided into three points. The first is a panoramic view, which I summarize with three verbs.

  1. To Come – To Stay – To Go forth

They are three paradigmatic verbs. “To come” and “to go”, which recur more in the Synoptic Gospels, with a sense of movement, while the verb “to stay”, typically Johannine, emphasizes interiority. The two dimensions, however, are not mutually exclusive, but interact with each other. To come, to stay/abide and go forth: would seem to indicate a process, a series of consecutive moments, but they are elements that often penetrate each other.

1.1. To Come

The Person of Jesus must have exerted a strong fascination on his contemporaries. Several times the Gospels speak of large crowds that “follow Jesus”. Many see in him a prophet sent by God, others expect him to heal or teach, still others are simply curious. However, in most cases, it is a physical, chance, practical matter of “following him”.

Unlike the crowds, the first disciples follow Jesus after being called, most of the time an unexpected call. This is clear in the vocation scenes. Simon and Andrew were fishing when Jesus, passing by, said to them: “Follow me” (Mk 1:17); soon after, he also called James and John, and they “followed him” (Mk 1:20). In the same way, a little later, he called Levi, “sitting at the tax office” to receive the payment of taxes: and Jesus said to him, “‘Follow me’. And he rose and followed him”, (Mk 2:14).

These accounts are full of dynamism. Jesus “passingsaw” (Mk 1:16). The verb to pass indicates movement, not only that of Jesus’ entry on the scene by the Lake of Galilee, but above all the most significant one: his setting out along the paths of man, his appearance in the places of daily life, his insertion in practical human affairs, his impact on individual human lives, placing himself on the same level as man to meet him on his own ground. It is the mystery of the Incarnation that culminates in the Passover at Easter.

In passing, in Jesus’ walking among men and women, the divine plan of salvation is realized. At the beginning of the mission, Jesus only goes to John to receive Baptism, than he immediately calls the first disciples to follow him. He wants to involve others on his journey. Thus, on his way he draws an ever greater number of men and women to him, to share his ideal, his mission, his lifestyle, his destiny.

The disciple’s following corresponds to the master’s going before/ahead. Jesus, in fact, precedes his disciples, showing them the goal and becoming for them “the way” to reach it. Towards the end of his earthly journey, Jesus “went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem” (Lk 19:28), the place where his mission culminates. But the Cross and death do not mark the final point of this journey. In fact, on the eve of his death he promises them: “After I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (Mk 14:28). And in his farewell address he assures his disciples: “And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (Jn 14:2-3). Following Jesus continues beyond the journey in this world and becomes boundless, beyond time and space. This thought is also expressed in Revelation, in which the author describes the 144,000 Saints who “follow the lamb wherever he goes” (Rev 14:4).

On the disciples’ part, receiving the call and following Jesus means taking a new direction in life, in which the point of reference is the Person of Jesus himself. However, they will have a long way to go to discover more in-depth who this man Jesus is, and what change is involved in setting out to follow him in life.

Jesus is well aware that his words and actions transcend the disciples’ capacity to understand, he knows that they will find it hard to “follow” him. He, therefore, accompanies them patiently with pedagogical wisdom, even if at times he does not refrain from asking some reproachful questions, such as: “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?” (Mk 8:17-18). In fact, the entire journey to Jerusalem, up to the Cross and the Resurrection, is for the disciples a long process of intense and intentional formation.

  1. 2. To Stay/Abide

At first, To Come represents an external movement, but it soon turns into a spiritual journey. John illustrates this clearly. In the account of the vocation of the first disciples (Jn 1:35-51), he introduces the category “to stay”, a verb that recurs 67 times in his Gospel, only three times in this episode.

The scene opens with John the Baptist, who proclaims in front of Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (v. 36). With discreet humility he acts as an index finger, as a bridge, to encourage others to go to Jesus. Two of his disciples, in-line with his directions, follow Jesus. And Jesus, sensing the timid footsteps behind him, “turned” and asked: “What do you seek?”. They reacted with a question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” [in the Greek text]. “He said to them, ‘Come and see’. They came and saw where he was staying and they stayed with him that day”.

Here, there is a series of movements, which at first sight appear to be external — following, turning, going, seeing — but they express a much more intense and profound interior movement. There is also an exchange of words and looks, of seeking and finding, of questions and answers, of thoughts and convictions, of invitation and promise, of attraction and involvement. In the end, everything culminates in “staying/abiding”, which becomes for the disciples the point of gravitation and the inexhaustible source of, and resource for, their life and their mission.

“Rabbi, where do you live (are you staying)?” and “they stayed with him”: here one notes an interesting inversion of perspective: from the place where Jesus is living to the permanent abode of the disciples. They want to find out about Jesus’ abode, whereas Jesus becomes their abode.

“Abide in me”

The “Abiding” is qualified by an “in me” in Jesus’ request, especially in his farewell speech. The “abiding” has a double value: it indicates the permanence of a place as well as its stable temporal duration. What Jesus asks and, almost, demands of his disciples is a relationship that includes space-time dimensions, an intense and profound, solid and dynamic relationship. By abiding in Jesus, the disciple becomes in tune with him and gradually experiences Paul’s words: “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5).

Jesus takes the image of the vine and branches to describe this profound communion: “Abide in me, and I in you … to bear much fruit” (Jn 15:4-5). By constantly abiding in him and allowing oneself to be penetrated ever more intimately and deeply by him, the disciple makes his life fruitful. The expression “bearing fruit” also implies a missionary fruitfulness. This fruitfulness, a natural consequence of mutual indwelling, is in turn a characteristic that distinguishes the true disciple of Jesus: “by this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples” (Jn 15:8). A true disciple of Jesus is never sterile.

“Continue in my word”

How can someone who did not know him during his earthly life “abide in Jesus?”. Abiding in Him means to observe his Word, the word he pronounced during his historical existence, handed down by the witnesses and then recorded in Scripture. Through the Word he makes himself present beyond the limits of time and space. Belief, that is the initial reception and adherence, is fundamental, but Jesus demands of his disciples a more mature degree of faith, continually nourished and enlivened by the Word. He expressly says: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:31-31). “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you” (Jn 15:7).

This thought is expressed several times even in a negative form. When the crowd murmurs after his “hard saying” on the Bread of Life, Jesus asks the disciples: “Will you also go away?” (Jn 6:67). Whoever does not abide in his Word had better go away, that is, no longer follow Jesus. In Jn 5:37-41 Jesus reproaches the Jews for never having listened to the voice of the Father nor internalized his Word, and the profound reason for this is: “You do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent…. I know that you have not the love of God within you”.

“Continue to abide in my love”

Called to follow Jesus, the disciple lets himself be loved with gratitude and simplicity. He is mysteriously involved in the communion of love existing between the Father and the Son. Jesus himself guarantees this: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15: 9).

Love shapes and forms the person, making the person ready to reach out to others. By abiding in God’s love, the disciple acquires a new vision of reality, a new source and purpose. He wants to do what God wants. In this sense Jesus says: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love….”. You are my friends if you do what I command you (cf. Jn 15:10-12). It is not a question of observing commandments imposed from without, but of being in harmony with the sphere of God, in harmony with God, which makes one experience that passion, that missionary impulse of which Paul speaks: “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor 5:14).

1.3. To go out

“Following” Jesus and “abiding” in him make the disciples similar to the Master. The heart then expands in universal love, the eyes open to wider horizons and the mind takes on the divine logic of selfless generosity. Thus, following leads to the mission, according to the missionary mandate of the Risen One – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”, (28:19-20) in Matthew’s version; or “… you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8), in Luke’s account. It does not appear to be something new, something added to the vocation of the disciples.

While at the first meeting with Jesus the disciples heard the Master’s invitation: “Follow me” (Mt 4:19), now this same Teacher, at their last meeting before returning to the Father, says to the disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). Benedict XVI comments: “Being with Jesus and being sent by him seem at first sight mutually exclusive, but they clearly belong together. The Apostles have to learn to be with Him in a way that enables them, even when they go to the ends of the earth, to be with him still. Being with him includes the missionary dynamic by its very nature, since Jesus’ whole being is mission” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Chapter Six, The Disciples, p. 172).

Following Christ is realized not only with the “coming” of Jesus, but also with “going out” to others, that is, by prolonging Jesus’ own mission in time and space. The purpose of following is not only that of “becoming disciples of Jesus”, but that of “making disciples” of others, indeed “all”, all of humanity without distinction of ethnicity, religion, social status, sex; because it is given to all to become citizens of the Kingdom of God.

It is interesting to see in John’s account of the call of the first disciples a chain of attraction and witness. Following the directions of John the Baptist, two of his disciples follow Jesus, after having stayed with Jesus, one of the two, Andrew, runs to call his brother Peter, saying: “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41). Philip does the same with his friend Nathanael. “Abiding/staying” with Jesus is not static; it is not like the usual story with a happy ending, “they stayed together and lived happily ever after”, but results in an impetuous movement to involve others, the brothers and sisters.

For Mary too, the encounter with God led to haste. “Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country” (Lk 1:39). She left quickly, despite hardship, inconvenience and danger. She embarked on a journey of about 150 km on winding roads through the mountains. Her step was light and joyful, because what filled her heart gave wings to her feet. It is a journey of friendship and service, a missionary journey: to bring to others news of God, who has entered the world, even if still in a hidden form. The suggestive image of Mary on her journey recalls the famous prophetic text: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good tidings” (Is 52:7).

God gladly uses peoples’ co-operation to communicate his presence, his word and his gifts. His message of salvation keeps pace with human footsteps, passes from mouth to mouth, from life to life, from heart to heart, creating a community of believers. Strong, convinced faith becomes a good to be communicated. Thus, John indicates the missionary “methodology” that is pleasing to God: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us” (1 Jn 1:3). Even today the sequela of Christ happens like a flame that sets fire to another to burn together. “Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!”, according to John Paul II, (Redemptoris Missio, n. 2; 1990); and “Love grows through love”, Benedict XVI echoes (Deus Caritas Est, n. 18). And Francis says: “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”, (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 120). 

  1. Farmer — Fisherman — Shepherd

These are the metaphors Jesus used to speak of the mission of his disciples, besides being the most ordinary forms of work, or trade, plied in Palestine in his time: agriculture in the plains, grazing in the mountainous areas, fishing in the Lake of Galilee.

2.1. The Farmer

In his parables Jesus speaks of the sower, of the workers in the vineyard, of the farmer who intercedes with the master to leave the barren fig tree for another year, of the abundance of the harvest and the small number of labourers. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (Jn 15:1). He even applies the image of the farmer to the Father. It is lovely to think of a God, not seated in majesty on a throne, but solicitous and attentive, bending over his vine. The farm labourer works hard, but he also knows how to wait and respect the timing of the earth and the rhythm of the plant’s growth. He has to struggle, especially in the arid land of Palestine, against the advancing desertification, but he has faith in the strength of the seed that grows by itself and in the life that sprouts in the dark and silence; he hopes that the mustard seed will become a flourishing tree and that the seed fallen on good soil will render a hundred-fold.

In the following of Jesus, other New Testament authors have also applied, with insight, the metaphor of the farmer of life and the mission of Christians, for example, the passage from The Letter of James is well-known and beautiful: “Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas 5:7-8).

2.2. The Fisherman

“Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mk 1:17). Fishermen, Jesus said. Not hunters. Not pursuers. The fisherman too knows how to wait, be patient with hope and trust. He is a person open to surprises, ready for adventure, risk and novelty. He throws the nets into the immense sea, immerses his hopes in the unknown depths and then waits with confidence. He does not wonder how the fish swim into the net, he does not target them, he does not chase them, he does not force them to enter, he does not set traps; he only throws the net, keeps it open and waits. Waiting is not boring, passive or empty for him, quite the contrary! He is full of emotional dynamism and a thousand little attentions.

The early bird catches the worm. The fisherman does not sleep, but watches and surveys everything: he takes care of the balance and the correct course of the boat, perceives the turn of the current, takes into account the direction and force of the wind, reads the changes in the weather, observes numerous signs that are mostly irrelevant.

The fisherman does not stay on dry land, but sails on a boat that floats on the sea that is not always calm. He must know how to manage the wind, the direction of the air currents, the waves; he must foresee a possible storm and any unforeseen events. He is a small, fragile being between two infinite, immense elements: the sky and the sea. The farther he goes from the shore, the greater the risk. Every ‘going forth’ is a risk, every return a grace.

When the net is immersed in the sea, the fisherman listens attentively in silence to catch the slightest whisper, notice every imperceptible movement of the water. He strains his ears, like one near the door, for his friend’s footsteps to be ready to open it when he knocks. All are welcome, big and small fish, rare or common.

Pulling the net up is always exciting. Sometimes it comes out of the water full, heavy, bursting with all kinds of shiny fish. If one person’s arms aren’t strong enough, there are those of brothers, colleagues, neighbours, friends. Everyone is ready to lend a hand, to rejoice at the abundant catch. The joy of one person brings joy to all. Luck is contagious. At times, however, after a long wait, after having worked hard and sweated a lot, the net comes up light, like an old rag, wet and worn out. Disappointment? Regret? No! The fisherman does not feel discouraged, does not give up easily. He knows how to fill the empty net with a supplement of hope. Tomorrow he will cast the net out again, maybe farther out, deeper. Tomorrow will be a new day, will bring new amazement!

Jesus likes the fisherman’s task so much that he adopted it as the image of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus asks his first disciples, who were fishermen, not to change their occupation, but to be fishers of men instead of fish, with the same skill.

One day, when asked to pay the “half-shekel tax” for the Temple, Jesus sent Peter to take it from the mouth of a fish (cf. Mt 17:24-27).Thus, these nice friends of his became his ‘wallet’. A valuable lesson for us: in order to become his witnesses and missionaries, one must be able to discover the silver coin hidden in every fish.

2.3. The Shepherd

The shepherd, seen as someone who lives with and for the flock, is a symbol of dedication. The image of the shepherd runs through throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Israel attributes this work to God because he, — like a good, alert, attentive and caring shepherd, takes care of the people with love, guides them, feeds them, defends them, — becomes a companion on the journey.

In the New Testament the shepherd is above all Jesus Christ. “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11, 14) is one of Jesus’ explicit self-affirmations. He knows his sheep by name, that is, intimately. He defends them from false and wicked shepherds, guides them to fertile pastures, protects them, and becomes himself the safe gate. He goes to look for the sheep that do not yet know him, he sets out to find the sheep that get lost, even if only one, and even goes so far as to say: “I lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn 10:15). And he did so, by dying on the Cross.

The disciples take part in Jesus’ pastoral mission. He entrusts this mission to them. The passage in John 21:15-17 is significant, in which the Risen Jesus, solemnly entrusts his flock to Peter three times – “Feed my lambs” …“Tend my sheep” — after having asked and obtained his confession of love three times. Love circulates: whoever loves Jesus shares his love with the flock. The flock is precious to Jesus, and that is why he only entrusts it to those who love it.

“Evangelizers thus take on the ‘smell of the sheep’” (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 24). Pope Francis’ genial aphorism is immediately clear, so any further comment or explanation would ruin its incisiveness. Similarly, we can say that every fisherman must take on the smell of fish and every farmer must “get soiled by the mud” of the earth, (n. 45). This is no marginal principle of Jesus’ teaching on mission.

  1. “There were Peter and John, James and Andrew …”

Jesus forms his disciples not with individual private lessons, but in groups. And he sends them out on mission two by two. The community, ecclesial, aspect of mission is clear, and its relational capacity is an essential dimension of the missionary formation Jesus imparted.

Who were the disciples of the community Jesus himself chose and constituted? The evangelists record their names (cf. Mk 3:16-19; Mt 10:2-4; Lk 6:13-16; Acts 1:13), without satisfying our curiosity about their personality, their development, their relationship within the community, etc. We do not have sufficient personal or biographical data to reconstruct the physiognomy of the individual disciples, but from what little we know we can see that Jesus loves diversity and wants a lively, heterogeneous community around him.

The “Twelve Apostles” come from different backgrounds. We know that Philip is from Bethsaida in Galilee (Jn 1:44), Peter and Andrew have a house in Capernaum (Mk 1:29), Simon is of Canaanite origin (Mk 3:18), and Bartholomew, whom tradition identifies with Nathanael, is from Cana in Galilee (Jn 21:2). From a social and professional point of view they were mostly fishermen, but Matthew stands out as a tax collector.

Some were already following John the Baptist, so, in a way, they had started a more intense and more demanding spiritual life. On the other hand, others, like the fishermen by the Lake of Tiberias (Mk 1:16-20) or Matthew at the tax office (Mt 9:7-9), following their usual daily occupations as common people, were suddenly called by Jesus without any preparation, neither remote nor recent.

Before becoming disciples of Jesus many of them did not know each other, while others were linked by blood or friendship. Andrew and Peter, James and John, two pairs of brothers, were fishermen and fellow workers; Philip was probably a friend of Nathanael.

The Twelve Apostles also represent diverse environments and ideological tendencies. Besides the simple fishermen of Galilee, were Matthew, the tax collector, Nathanael: “Behold, an Israelite indeed” (Jn 1:47) and Simon, a zealot.

If from their profile we look at their character and personality, the diversity that emerges is even greater. In the group Simon Peter attracts a lot of attention, an impulsive, impetuous man, ready to act rather than reflect (“Lord, if it is you, bid me to come to you on the water”, but then he was afraid: (Mt 14:28 -32), more ready to make a promise than to keep it (“Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” (Lk 22:33); “I will lay down my life for you” (Jn 13:37). He is someone who easily goes to extremes (“You shall never wash my feet!”; “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (Jn 13:8-9), who falls easily, but who gets up quickly as soon as the mistake is recognized. He is impatient, asks many questions in quick succession, wants everything to be clear, immediately; he finds it hard to wait, to await the mystery, because he is a practical man: he needs solutions, and he always asks many questions (“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” (Mt 18:21); “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” (Mt 19:27); “Lord, where are you going? … why cannot I follow you now?” (Jn 13:36-37). He follows Jesus with all the ardour of his character and with all his love for him (“Lord, you know that I love you” (Jn 21:16-17) and Jesus entrusts him with the task of guiding the nascent Church.

John, on the other hand, expresses his ardent love for Jesus in a very different way. He too has a strong temperament (John and his brother James whom he called “Boanërges/sons of thunder” (Mk 3:17), is endowed with a great capacity for reflection and intuition together with a strong sense of the mystery. He is the theologian and the mystic of the group.

Andrew appears to be a sociable, generous, zealous man, anxious to lead others to Jesus. Once he discovers something good and beautiful, he hurries to share it with the others. It is he who takes his brother, Peter, to Jesus, joyfully announcing: “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41).

When a group of Greeks wanted to see Jesus, it is he, with Philip, who facilitates the encounter (cf. Jn 12:20-22). Once again it is Andrew who finds and takes the boy with five loaves and two fish to Jesus, thus contributing to the great miracle (cf. Jn 6:8-9).

Similar to Andrew from this point of view is Philip, the mediator between Nathanael and Jesus at their first meeting (“Come and see,” Jn 1:46). Philip is a simple, straightforward man; who has a struggle to go beyond what is visible, to penetrate the deeper meaning of reality (“Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little piece”, Jn 6: 5-6. “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip?” Jn 14 8-9).

Like Philip, but even more so, Thomas is slow to grasp the mystery in its depth. Thomas is a rational type, who does not compromise or take risks easily, he does not trust without tangible proof, he does not believe without having personal experience (“Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?”, Jn 14:5. “Unless … I place my hand in his side, I will not believe”, Jn 20:24-29).

Nathanael had the privilege of receiving fine praise from Jesus at their very first meeting: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile”. This made him go from ironic scepticism — “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” — to ask in amazement — “How do you know me?” — to finally reach the confession of faith “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel” (Jn 1:47-49).

We notice a withdrawn figure in the group, James, always present at the important events and always discreet: who was to be the first to die a martyr for his faith in the Master (Acts 12:1).

Matthew, the tax collector, recounts his own call in his Gospel (Mt 9:9-13). Jesus sees him “sitting at the tax office” and says to him: “Follow me”. His response is immediate: he gets up and follows him, ready to start a new life. Jesus then enters his house and into table fellowship with his other colleagues. Jesus answers the Pharisees’ objection by stating that his mission is to bring forgiveness and divine mercy to sinners.

The list also mentions one James the son of Alphaeus, one Judas of James, one Simon a Zelot of whom we know no more than the name. Finally, there is Judas Iscariot, a weak character, a “shady” man, impervious to love (Jn 13:30), who ends up committing a senseless gesture, humanly incomprehensible: he betrays Jesus.

In short, the disciples are not ideal, perfect people; they are not reliable examples, but ordinary men with different characters, with the qualities and defects “common to all mortals”. Sometimes they quarrelled over platitudes. There was even a little competition among them. Contrary to what Jesus taught them, they aspired to be the first, the greatest in the group. However, one thing is certain: they were all attracted to Jesus, who, at different times and in different circumstances, addressed the same invitation to each of them: “Come and follow me!”. Their faith in Jesus is what united them.

For these men, who were so different from each other, Jesus addressed, at the end of his life, his prayer to the Father: “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:23). It is to them that Jesus entrusted his whole self, his words, his actions, his mission and, in a certain sense, his future: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19); with the power of the Spirit “you shall be my witnesses … to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

He trusted the group of disciples, he trusts us, simple men and women, and knows that as long as we are faithful to him, the centre of unity, diversity contributes to making our communities more beautiful, richer and dynamic, and our missionary work more effective.

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