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The General Audience of Pope Francis on Wednesday, September 6, is a reflection on the recently completed apostolic journey to Mongolia.

“I returned from Mongolia on Monday. I would like to express my gratitude to those who accompanied my visit with prayers and again to thank the authorities who solemnly welcomed me: in particular, Mr. President Khurelsukh, as well as former President Enkhbayar, who extended an official invitation to me to visit the country. I remember with joy the local Church and the Mongolian people: a noble and wise people who showed me so much cordiality and affection. Today I would like to introduce you to the heart of this journey.

One may ask: why does the Pope go so far as to visit a small group of believers? Because it is there, away from everyone’s attention, that we often find signs of the presence of God, who looks not at the appearance, but in the heart, as we heard in the passage from the prophet Samuel (see 1 Samuel 16: 7). The Lord seeks not the center of the stage, but the simple heart of those who desire and love Him, without appearing, without wanting to rise above others. And I had the grace to find in Mongolia a modest Civilization, but a happy Church, which is in the heart of God, and I can testify to you their joy from staying for several days in the center of the Civilization.

This community has a touching history. It arose, by the grace of God, from the apostolic commitment, which we are now thinking about, by some missionaries who, carried away by the gospel, went to a country that they did not know about thirty years ago. They learned the language – which is not easy – and, despite belonging to different peoples, they gave birth to a single and truly Catholic community. Indeed, this is the meaning of the word “catholic,” which means “universal.” But it is not about the universality that homogenizes, but about the universality that inculturates, it is the commonality that inculturates. This is catholicity: an embodied, “inculturated” universality that sees goodness where it lives and serves the people with whom it lives. This is how the Church lives: testifying to the love of Jesus with meekness, life before words, happy with its true wealth: serving the Lord and brothers.

This is how this young Church was born: as a result of charity that is the best evidence of faith. At the end of my visit, I had the joy of blessing and opening the “House of Mercy,” the first charitable activity in Mongolia, expressing all the components of the local Church. A home that is the calling card of these Christians, but which calls each of our communities to be a house of mercy: that is, an open place, a hospitable place where the suffering of everyone can come into contact without shame with the mercy of God, who uplifts and heals. Here is the testament of the Mongolian Church with missionaries from different countries who feel unity with the people, they are happy to serve them and discover the beauty that already exists. Because these missionaries did not come there to proselytize, this would not be evangelical, they came there to live like the Mongolian people, speak their language, the language of this people, adopt the values of this people, and preach the Gospel in Mongolian style, with Mongolian words. They went ahead and “inculturated”: they took the Mongolian culture in order to proclaim the gospel in this culture.

I have been able to discover some of this beauty particularly thanks to meeting some people, listening to their stories, and appreciating their religious studies. In this sense, I am grateful for the interreligious and ecumenical meeting that took place last Sunday. Mongolia has a great Buddhist tradition, many people live their religion in silence, sincerely and radically, through altruism and struggle with their passions. Let us think how many seeds of goodness are secretly sprouted by the garden of peace, while we usually hear only the noise of falling trees! And people, we too, enjoy a scandal: “Look, what barbarism, the tree fell, what noise it made!” “But don’t you see the forest that grows every day?” because the growth happens silently. It is extremely important to be able to see and recognize the good. Often, on the contrary, we value others only to the extent that they correspond to our vision, instead we should see the good in it. And this is why it is important, as the Mongolian people do, to direct their gaze upward, towards the light of goodness. Only in this way, starting with the recognition of goodness, is a common future built; only by appreciating the other, we can help him to improve. I have been to the very heart of Asia, and it has done me good. It is nice to enter into dialogue with this great continent, to understand its messages, to learn its wisdom, its way of looking at things, to embrace time and space. I was pleased to meet the Mongolian people who keep their roots and traditions, respect their elders, and live in harmony with the environment: these are people who look at the sky and feel the breath of creation. Thinking about the vast and silent expanses of Mongolia, let us be excited by the need to expand the boundaries of our vision; please, expand the boundaries, look wide and high, look and do not get caught up in trifles, expand your horizons, the boundaries of your vision, so that we can see the goodness that exists in others, and are able to broaden our horizons, as well as expand our hearts in order to understand, to be close to every person and every civilization.”

Giornalisti e Redattori di Pluralia

Editorial board