Pope Francis called on priests, nuns, and consecrated men and women to talk about faith in “dialect” and without alienating the people.
“Let us not be afraid to continue inculturating the Gospel,” the Catholic Church leader said during his meeting with members of the clergy and the religious in Thailand.
He urged local church leaders “to seek new ways to transmit the Word that is capable of mobilizing and awakening the desire to know the Lord.”
He made the call a day after urging thousands of Catholics gathered in Bangkok for Mass to follow the example of the early missionaries who brought the faith to Thailand.
The pope met on Nov. 22 with Thai clergy, religious sisters and bishops from across Asia at a sanctuary dedicated to Thailand’s first martyred priest.
“Let us give faith a Thai face and flesh, which involves much more than making translations,” he told them.
“We need to let the Gospel ‘sing’ with the native music of this land and inspire the hearts of our brothers and sisters with the same beauty that set our own hearts on fire,” he said.
Pope Francis started his talk by citing the “silent martyrdom of fidelity and daily commitment” of consecrated persons.
He also offered his thanks to “catechists and elderly consecrated men and women who drew us into the love and friendship of Jesus Christ.”
Speaking about the priestly and religious vocations, the pope reminded his audience of the people “who helped us discover and discern the fire of the Spirit.”
The pontiff exhorted the priests, nuns, and seminarians to “be alert to beauty, to a sense of wonder capable of opening up new horizons and raising new questions.”
He said a consecrated life “incapable of openness to surprises is only a half a life.”
Pope Francis noted how many vocations begin by going out “to visit the needy, the neglected and even the despised, orphans and the elderly.”
The pope said that “we can discover the beauty of being able to treat one another as brothers and sisters” in the faces of people on the street.
“We see them no longer as orphans, derelicts, outcasts or the despised. Now each of them has the face of a brother or sister redeemed by Jesus Christ,” he said.
“That is what it is to be a Christian,” added Pope Francis.
He also spoke of the importance of prayer, saying that “apostolic fruitfulness is sustained by fidelity to deep prayer.”
“Without prayer, our life and mission loses all its meaning, strength and fervor,” he said.
The pope urged local church leaders to think of themselves as “little tools in the Lord’s creative hands” where “He will be writing with your lives the finest pages of the history of salvation.”
Later in the afternoon, the pontiff would be attending an interfaith encounter, where he is expected to highlight areas of cooperation with various faiths in the region.
Pope Francis leaves on Nov. 23 for Japan for the second and final leg of his Asian trip.
Watch this video of the pope arriving at St. Peter’s parish on the outskirts of Bangkok on Nov. 22.