I love January, the quiet month. The tree and decorations have been put back in the attic, the crèche has been stored away and life returns to normal. It’s time to read those books we received as gifts. This January, though, I am asking you put off the books for something else.
I challenge you take time to read and reflect upon Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”). It is highly readable, not theological, but very personal and pastoral. I want you to read it yourself to understand what the Holy Father is really asking of us, not what the media or a friend told you.
This is a call to each of us to become not just admirers of Jesus, but to be disciples and witnesses to the Gospel. In his exhortation, Pope Francis not only challenges us to be witnesses but also to be proclaimers, missionary evangelizers of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
It also includes his vision of the reform of the Church, which is not only a community of the evangelized but also an evangelizing community. It speaks of the difficulties faced by pastoral workers.
Expressing concern about the quality of homilies, Pope Francis notes, “The homily is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people.”
Of course, it could not be from Pope Francis without addressing the needs of the poor. He writes, “Since this Exhortation is addressed to members of the Catholic Church, I want to say, with regret, that the worst discrimination which the poor suffer is the lack of spiritual care … Our preferential option for the poor must mainly translate into a privileged and preferential religious care.”
There is much more, but you must read it yourself, keeping in mind that the embrace of Pope Francis by the world is the greatest demonstration of the power of witness.
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish