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Papa Francesco’s words of wisdom: Share joy of God’s love with others, especially the poor Print
Editorial
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Dec. 05, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Papa Francesco. That’s the name on the PDF document of the apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), written by Pope Francis. I went to the Vatican website and downloaded my own copy to read (readers might do the same at www.vatican.va).

The name Papa Francesco seems like such an appropriate way to think of our Holy Father. He speaks to us as a devoted parent, sharing his words of wisdom, just like a loving father would talk with his children.

Noise of the world drowns out God’s voice

Even though this is an upbeat document, Pope Francis — like the Holy Father he is — shows us where we are falling short as disciples of Christ. He observes that we often don’t share the joy of the Gospel with others. He also chastises Christians for letting God’s voice be drowned out by the noise of the world.

He says, “The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.”

That is so true. How often do we let the noise of the world drown out God’s voice, particularly in this season of preparation for Christmas in our consumer-oriented culture?

Pope Francis admits that no one is immune from the lure of our society. He warns, “This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry, and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.”

Overcoming the challenges of the world

How do we overcome the challenges of the world? Pope Francis says it begins with a “renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.” He asks all of us “to do this unfailingly each day.” He emphasizes this invitation to encounter Jesus Christ is meant for everyone. No one is excluded, he insists.

Even those who might have fallen away from God and the Church are welcome. Pope Francis says, “How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost!”

Pope Francis adds, “God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another ‘70 times seven’ (Mt. 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us 70 times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders.”

Christians should be filled with joy

Pope Francis reminds us that Christians should be filled with joy, not “sourpusses.” He says that we “must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!”

He says Jesus’ message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn. 15:11).

Pope Francis laments the fact that there are Christians “whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.” He admits that some people endure grief and suffering, yet even those people should be joyful because of the promise of salvation offered by the Lord.

He says that “the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to.”

Material possessions can lead to narrowness and self-absorption. If we don’t have as many distractions, we might be more open to listening to God, receive his love more fully,  and share it with others.

Sharing God’s love with others

“Goodness always tends to spread,” says Pope Francis. “We have to reach out to others and seek their good.”

He encourages Catholic parishes to provide an environment “for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship, and celebration.” Pope Francis invites everyone in the Church to be “bold and creative” and not have a complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way.”

The Holy Father stresses that the Church must be concerned above all with the poor and the sick.“We have to state, without mincing words, that there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. May we never abandon them,” he says.

To sum it up, Papa Francesco encourages us to be joyful, optimistic, and hopeful as we share the love of God with everyone around us. He says, “Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.”

I encourage everyone to get a copy of Evangelii Gaudium and read it, especially during the season of Advent. You will come away with a deeper love for Christ, the Church, and our wonderful Holy Father — and energized to spread the joyful message of God’s love for all of us.

 
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