Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Giving witness to Jesus Christ is more than mere advertising, Pope Francis said: it's the act of courage in proclaiming the Gospel "with frankness" even to the point of martyrdom.
Christians do not simply "advertise Jesus Christ" with the aim of increasing our numbers, the pontiff noted during his daily Mass homily on April 13. "This is not necessary."
"What the Christian does is to announce with courage, and the proclamation of Jesus Christ causes, through the Holy Spirit, that astonishment that keeps us going," he said, according to Vatican Radio's translation.
Pope Francis centered part of his reflection on the day's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, recounting the threats made against the apostles Peter and John during their imprisonment for speaking the name of Jesus.
Through the Holy Spirit, the pontiff said, Peter and John - although "simple" and "uneducated" - are given the "strength to proclaim Jesus Christ up until the final witness: martyrdom."
Despite being threatened by their captors, the apostles continued to proclaim God's word "with frankness" and encouraged others to do the same.
"We cannot keep silent (about) what we have seen and heard," the pontiff said, recalling the apostle's prayer to speak God's word boldly, and "not flee" from the threats they receive.
Pope Francis went on to speak about the "path of openness" and "Christian courage," which he says is relevant today.
"The path of Christian courage is a grace given by the Holy Spirit," the Pope said. Courage, he added, is an instrument of the Holy Spirit. Without Him, "we can do many things, much work, but it is not of any use."
Pope Francis turned to the Gospel reading for the day, which recounts what he described as the "mysterious" conversation in which Jesus speaks to Nicodemus of the need to be "born anew" in the Spirit (John 3:3).
"On this journey of openness," the Pope said, the "true protagonist" is "precisely the Holy Spirit," who is "the only one able to give us this grace of courage to proclaim Jesus Christ."
"And this courage of proclamation is what distinguishes us from simple proselytism," Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father cited the passage from John, in which Jesus says: "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).
"Only the Spirit is able to change our attitude," he said, to "change the story of our lives, to change our being."
Pope Francis spoke about the period of preparation after Easter for receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
He concluded: In celebrating "the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus," he called on the faithful to remember "the whole history of salvation," asking "for the grace to receive the Spirit to give us the true courage to announce Jesus Christ."