Admittedly, I’m a little bit of a papal geek. It is not a new found obsession with the current Holy Father. I have been learning from the tutelage of Benedict XVI and John Paul II as well for a long time. Here is what has most recently caught my attention and imagination.
Francis offered an Angelus message on the Feast of the Epiphany last Wednesday that expanded our understanding of the New Evangelization. In it, he was calling Catholicism to a new sense of missionary hustle.
“To proclaim the Gospel of Christ is not simply one option among many,” the pope said, “nor is it a profession.” Instead, Francis said, it’s the “very nature” of the Church. “There is no other way,” he said.
Read that as:
- There is no other option for the Church than to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.
- It cannot stand as something the Church only talks about (profession) – And, as an aside, we have all been doing a lot of that lately
- It is the very nature of the Church
- WE ARE THE CHURCH
- There is no other way for you and me than to proclaim the Gospel of Christ in our words, in our actions, with our lives.
Pope Francis echoes the Great Commission when he encourages us / challenges us “to guide every man and every woman of this world, respectfully, toward the child who was born for the salvation of all.” Which, of course, I read as:
- To guide, not with just our words, but with the example of our actions and our lives.
And then the Holy Father went there: Francis described a broad concept of “mission,” insisting that it finds expression in the Church’s commitment to service. To underline the point, Francis added the word “service” to the text of his homily three times, at one stage saying mission means “reflecting the light of Christ in her service.”
Our work in New Evangelization demands we must call each other to service. It is not only about calling each other to feeling good by doing good. Although that does occur. It is not only about making a difference in the world by designing a better personal resume / eulogy with the way we live our lives. Although that does occur. It is about the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ – to which Pope Francis is claiming as our mission is the “very nature” of the Church.
What are we waiting for?
Which is a question for a former Philadelphian that evokes bells, Burgess Meredith, and Rocky.