“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), (no. 23).
- Reflection: Where is God calling you to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ?
- Check out these Catholic street preachers: http://streetevangelization.com/
“An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the ‘smell of the sheep’ and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be” (no. 24).
- Reflection: Are you able to name one person whose life you’re intimately involved in—no matter how difficult or lengthy?
“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” (no. 27).
- Reflection: What are your dreams for the Church?
- “Joy of the Gospel” is Pope Francis’ “I Have a Dream Speech.” http://ncronline.org/news/theology/evangelii-gaudium-amounts-francis-i-have-dream-speech
- Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream Speech:
“Saint Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the percepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the people of God ‘are very few’. Citing Saint Augustine, he noted that the percepts subsequently enjoined by the Church should be insisted upon with moderation ‘so as not to burden the lives of the faithful’ and make our religion a form of servitude, whereas ‘God’s mercy has willed that we should be free’. This warning, issued many centuries ago, is most timely today. It ought to be one of the criteria to be taken into account in considering a reform of the Church and her preaching which would enable it to reach everyone” (no. 43).
- Reflection: How am I placing burdens on others? How can I free others? myself?
“The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door. There are other doors that should not be closed either. Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason. This is especially true of the sacrament, which is itself called ‘the door’: baptism. The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’” (no. 47).
- Reflection: How open are you, and your parish, to those seeking God?
Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘throw away’ culture, which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers’” (no. 53).
- Reflection: How have I participated in this “throw away” culture? What one resolution can I make to help change this culture?
- American throw-away culture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeHahCE07fg
- Throw-away children of the dump:
- Consider being a regular donor to Catholic Charities: http://catholiccharitiesdubuque.org/
- Or Catholic Relief Services: http://crs.org/
“The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule” (no. 56).
No to a financial system, which rules rather than serves
“In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response, which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: ‘Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs’” (no. 57).
“Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings” (no. 58).
- Reflection: How can we promote a culture where money serves, not rules, in our businesses and communities? How can we be in solidarity with the poor?
- Video Trailer for Wall Street: Is greed good?