By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY — Christians should pray on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit would give them the courage and strength to share the Gospel, Pope Francis said.
“No matter how difficult the situation may be … we must not give up and we must not forsake pursuing what is essential in our Christian life, namely evangelization,” the pope said May 24, the Wednesday before Pentecost.
Using the example of 19th-century Korean martyr St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Pope Francis continued his weekly general audience talks about the “zeal” to evangelize. The pope introduced his talk about St. Andrew by pointing out how Christianity was introduced to Korea 200 years before St. Andrew by laypeople who had heard the Gospel in China and shared it when they returned home.
“Baptized laypeople were the ones who spread the faith. There were no priests,” the pope said. “Would we be able to do something like that?”
Ordained in 1844, St. Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korean-born priest and ministered at a time of anti-Christian persecution. Pope Francis told the story of how when the saint was still a seminarian, he was sent to welcome missionaries who snuck into the country. After walking far through the snow, “he fell to the ground exhausted, risking unconsciousness and freezing. At that point, he suddenly heard a voice, ‘Get up, walk!'”
“This experience of the great Korean witness makes us understand a very important aspect of apostolic zeal: namely, the courage to get back up when one falls,” the pope said.
Each Christian can witness to the Gospel — “talk about Jesus” — in one’s family, among friends and in one’s community, the pope said.