A series of reflections for the parish on Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel
Over the next number of pastor’s “Stay Inspired” bulletin articles, I’d like to talk about some exciting parts of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation called Evangelii Gaudium, or The Joy of the Gospel. You can find the whole document for free on the Vatican website. It’s numbered by paragraphs so you can easily find the parts I refer to.
The first chapter of The Joy of the Gospel is called “The Church’s Missionary Transformation” and the pope calls the first section “A Church Which Goes Forth.” If you were at the Feast of the Archangels Mass with the bishop at which I preached last month or if you read my letter in the bulletin last weekend written for that occasion, you know I encouraged us to take this 50th anniversary as time to celebrate our history as well as to let God launch us further on our journey into the future.* This is what Pope Francis is encouraging the whole worldwide Catholic Church to do as well: to be a Church that goes forth on mission.
He’s also clear that in order to be a Church and an individual parish that really does go out to reach people with the good news of Jesus, we need some transformation. We’re not completely where we need to be to reach the next generation…as is clear by the fact that so many younger people are no longer participating in church or practicing their faith.
But even with these challenges, the pope is full of hope! What he does in this part of The Joy of the Gospel is to cast out for us his vision and his dream. It’s for the Church to transform to be more effective in her mission to evangelize, that is, to share with people the good news of Jesus with all people.
In paragraph 20 Pope Francis says:
God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer 1:7). In our day Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth”. Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel.
I look forward in the coming weeks to explore with you Pope Francis’ exciting vision for the whole Catholic Church and to begin to reflect on what it might mean for us at St. Raphael!
Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J.
* You can listen to audio of Fr. Phil’s homily from the Feast of the Archangels Mass