A series of reflections for the parish on Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel
Part 3: Keeping on the Move with Jesus
In our next quote from The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis calls upon Pope St. John Paul II to help make his point. This is paragraph 23:
The Church’s closeness to Jesus is part of a common journey; “communion and mission are profoundly interconnected.*” In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded. That is what the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people (Lk 2:10). The Book of Revelation speaks of “an eternal Gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tongue and tribe and people” (Rev 14:6). * John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (30 Dec 88), 32.
What does this mean, in this quote from JPII, that “communion and mission are profoundly interconnected?” Pope Francis gives a nice summary explanation as he introduces the quote: “The Church’s closeness to Jesus is part of a common journey...”
Here’s what I think the popes mean: If we want to be close to Jesus, we have to stay on the journey of mission with him – because he’s always on the move! Think of Jesus in the Gospels… He was always on the journey of mission. If he was in one town, he was going from one house to the next to preach, heal, pray… Then he was always going from town to town too, to reach out to those who had not yet heard the good news of being in relationship with him, being forgiven their sins by him. And very quickly he began sending out his disciples as missionaries too, to reach even more people.
Jesus is still the same today. He’s Resurrected and present in his Church and is breathing on us the Holy Spirit who is on the move – inspiring the Church to journey from good to better in making a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes we can begin to think of our closeness to Jesus a “private” matter – it’s just between him and me. Pope John Paul II and now Pope Francis show us that this is just not the case. Our relationship with Jesus is deeply personal, but not private: Only by being with others on his mission, only by serving others and letting them help us too, can we be really close to Jesus. And what better place can we get to know and be with others on mission than in our parish? How can we do this even better at St. Raphael?
So, if personally and as a parish we want to be really close to Jesus, it’s best to keep up with him! To go where he goes, to discern where the Holy Spirit is moving… Our personal relationship, our communion with Jesus, is closely connected with our willingness to keep moving with him and our brothers and sister on mission.
Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J. Pastor
* You can listen to the audio and watch the video of Fr. Phil’s homily from the Feast of the Archangels Mass below.