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"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, con
cerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it ...." I John 1:1-2 (RSV)

"After his resurrection the disciples saw the living Christ, whom they knew to have died, with the eyes of faith (oculata fide)." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, 55, 2 ad 1, as quoted in D. M. Stanley, Jesus in Gethsemane (New York, Paulist Press 1980).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pope Francis - the Missionary Disciple

Disciples are followers, but the pope argues that believers must be more than followers.  They must be missionaries:     “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always missionary disciples”. 

Article 120, "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel")  (November 26, 2013).   

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pope Francis - the Desert Experience

Pope Francis speaks about the spiritual desert, and  how life at home with families and  at the workplace can be parched places where it becomes a challenge to proclaim the the  faith. Section 86, "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel")  (November 26, 2013).   

In this section 86 the pope describes the desert, quoting Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at Mass for the Opening of the Year of Faith (11 October 2012) AAS 104 (2012), 881, as follows:  “Yet ‘it is starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us men and women. In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, by the example of their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive.'" 

Our homes and workplaces in the modern world are spiritual deserts. Most people have no interest in Jesus. Life at home for many focuses on getting the daily work done and paying the bills, without any appreciation for how God wants to enter into those mundane things.   And in the workplace if you push Jesus too hard you will get sued.  Life  at home and at work can become a spiritual desert.  But that is not for us.  We must be there to respond to the thirsty, parched people whom we encounter each day.   The desert creates an opportunity.  And we know how God deals with the desert.  As people think long and hard about the meaning of life (in the desert) they may conclude that the answer is God, and then in their thirst  they can experience the joy of the Gospel, and God will bring them to that promised land of faith, which (to switch metaphors) yields the fruit of the spirit, which is love, joy, peace and kindness.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Missionary Work Gives Joy

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, issued November 24, 2013,  Pope Francis at section 15 quotes the encyclical of John Paul II,  Redemptoris Missio (December 7, 1990), stating that “the missionary task must remain foremost”.   Commenting on these words just quoted, the pope states:

What would happen if we were to take these words seriously? We would realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity. Along these lines the Latin American bishops stated that we “cannot passively and calmly wait in our church buildings”; we need to move “from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry”. This task continues to be a source of immense joy for the Church: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Lk 15:7).

Evangelii Gaudium (November 24, 2013) at section 15 (quoting Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, Aparecida Document, 29 June 2007, 548).

This is a new way to look at Luke 15:7.  The messenger who brings the good news is blessed with great spiritual consolation.  But doesn't the text refer to "joy in heaven," with no reference to joy for the missionary?  The pope quotes Luke 15 as a matter of joy "for the church."  The church is present in heaven and on earth.  It's not a stretch, then, for the pope to rely on this verse in his discussion of the connection between joy and the work of sharing the gospel.