A series of reflections for the parish on Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel
Pope Francis continues with his vision for the Church:
I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be…
suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with himself. As John Paul II once said to the Bishops of Oceania: “All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion.” (paragraph 27)
I’ve been struck recently by the distinction between a vision or a dream, and a plan. A vision is a picture of a potential future that can inspire us. Plans are what we put in place to try to move us toward that future. A priest I know points out that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not say, “I have a plan.” He said, “I have a dream!”
Pope Francis shares his dream with us here: That there be a missionary impulse in the Church that will bring the kind of transformation and change he’s been talking about in the document thus far. To make everything more focused on going out on mission to evangelize the world and not just doing “ecclesial introversion.” Not being overly preoccupied with internal Church and parish details, concerns, conflicts. And this will indeed lead to changes in our plans: with the way to go about things, how we manage our times and schedules, the way we word things, the way we organize things. If we want change that will make the new evangelization more of a reality we will have to change in very practical ways – to adjust ways of doing things we might have become comfortable with.
Coming soon: Pope Francis talks about parish life in particular. Stay tuned!
Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J.