Archive | January, 2014

‘Joy of the Gospel’

22 Jan

 

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Exalt in the Word of the Lord! For he loves us unconditionally!

Pope Francis has given the Church a great gift in his “Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium).

In this book published last November, the Holy Father both edifies and challenges Catholics in their faith. He urges us to believe that God loves us. He challenges us to love others as God loves us.

That love for others, from the faithful heart, of necessity will result in sharing the cause of our joy and hope with others, with everyone in our life, with everyone we meet.

Continuing the vision of John XXIII, Blessed John Paul and Benedict XVI, he is calling us to recapture the fervor and focus of the early Church, that fervor which, for example, brought 3,000 people into the Church on the heels of that first Christian Pentecost. Or, again, the fervor which motivated Deacons Stephen, Ephraim, Philip and Francis to bring God’s Word and his wisdom to the people of their time.

And we can’t help but recall other great saints such as Teresa of Avila, Therese the Little Flower, Mother Teresa, John of the Cross, John Chrysostom and Peter Chrysologos.

Here are some gleanings from “Joy of the Gospel.”

Pope Francis insists that each Catholic is responsible for sharing God’s love and the Gospel of Christ. He says that the Church goes forth to bring God’s word to all people. The Church (that means all of us) must leave her comfort zone to follow Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations.

 The Church “which goes forth is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step.” This community knows that the Lord Jesus has taken the first step—he has lived among us, taught us and died and risen from the dead for us. He is asking us to do what he did. 

Pope Francis envisions a “ ‘missionary option,’ a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, time and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”

Please, read and reflect on this message from our Holy Father. Reflect on it with family members, friends and fellow parishioners. Pope Francis is ushering us into a new Pentecost– and that’s what the “New Evangelization” is all about.

(You may download the document from www.holysee.org and click on Apostolic Exhortations. Or, you may obtain it from Word Among Us Press, www.wordamongus.org , for less than $10.00.)

 

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Synthesis May Work

10 Jan

Dog Tags on Flag

Just how do we fix what needs fixing in these United States of America? For example, we hear a lot about the problems of our economy and unemployment—and it seems that the poor have become a pawn in our political brawl.

What is the answer?

There are those who think a more socialistic approach to the economy is the answer. However, a spiritually impoverished socialism is surely not the answer—and the “gospel of hope” we hear from big government advocates is shattered by their attack on religious liberty and disregard for traditional moral values.

Nor is a spiritually impoverished capitalism the answer. All we need to do is recall the birthing pangs of unions as laborers fought for fair wages and safe working conditions. Now, sadly, people seem to discern that Big Union is as dangerous as Big Government, especially when it seems that unions work for their own enrichment regardless of how their agenda affects others.

Human beings are products of their environment. We often feel lost in all the turmoil and confusion plaguing us today.  But, think of the poor and disenfranchised. They are especially powerless to influence the formation of social values and policies which affect them and all citizens of a community or nation.

So, it seems to me that a spiritually impoverished Big Whatever is far from what we need to get our nation back on track.

A Voice of Reason and Hope

Pope Francis has courageously confronted the social ills and religious callousness in both the world and in our own Catholic Church. His “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”) pulls no punches as he acknowledges the obvious failures of Church hierarchy and the faithful to embrace totally the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He urges us to begin to listen, really listen, and to learn from the poor. He holds that making the poor an intimate and effective part of our society and our government, and our Church, is central to what it means to be Christian.

The pope is critical of a capitalistic vision with the sole goal of making money. He states that when the haves have it all, part of what they have belongs to the poor. He does not advocate a Robin Hood approach—rob the rich to give to the poor. He insists that part of society’s responsibility to the poor is to enhance employment opportunities with just wages.

He calls for a balanced understanding of who we are as fellow humans, all creatures of the same God, all loved by God and created to live in love and peace. He wants to see those with financial power working to free people from poverty and powerlessness.

In spite of shrill talking heads on TV and radio, he does not say that capitalism is intrinsically bad. He does not condemn private ownership of property or the right of entrepreneurs to enjoy the fruit of their genius (or maybe luck).

Pope Francis does insist that each person, regardless of race, economic and social status, has a sacred obligation to the common good. This common good includes a sacred duty to assist the poor to rise above their limitations and to achieve self-determination.

Try a Bit of Synthesis

For the sake of our nation and our positive influence in the world community, and for some semblance of sanity, let’s try a bit of synthesis:

  • In our efforts to help the poor, let’s develop a true appreciation of their human dignity and their need to achieve self-determination, find jobs and have an effective voice in society.
  • We need to expand our limited understanding of “helping the poor,” to include those imprisoned in “psychological poverty,” a hopelessness that they will never, ever be able to escape their pain and despair.
  • Let’s set aside the tendency for self-aggrandizement and face the truth about who we are and what we do.
  • We must synthesize what our Constitution says about no “establishment of religion” with its guarantee of religious liberty; we need to acknowledge God as creator and embrace again, as a nation, the fact that religious values and truth enhance social progress for all people.

I have a voice—and so do you!

Question of Recognition

4 Jan

The Cross of Christ calling multitudes to salvation, calling you and me, calling our family. Givng us identity, continuity. Letting us help God in making and remaking sociiety into an image of his Kingdom.
S
ee what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.  Yet so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is because we did not know him.

 (1 Jn 3:1)

Yes, we are children of God, his daughters and sons, made so by the Blood of the Lamb, in Baptism and the power of the Holy Spirit in our Church.

Paul says that people will not recognize us if they do not know God.

But, if people do not recognize God, is it because they do indeed know us?