Evangelii Gaudium . . .
In his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), our Holy Father Pope Francis gives us his far-reaching vision of our Church and a “call to action” for the world’s believers. Sacred Scripture call us to joy-filled belief and witness. Pope Francis states, “The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice” (5).
His emphasis on urging all Christians where ever they are is to spread the Good News with joy by our words but more importantly through our actions. As I was reading this apostolic exhortation I was struck by how “Franciscan”-based this is.
St. Francis always exhorted his followers to preach the Gospel with joy. We are to be joyful people. There is a saying that is attributed to St. Francis to his early friars, “Preach always and if necessary use words.” I believe Pope Francis is exhorting the Church to do the same. Sometimes words are necessary but our actions and the way that we live our lives usually has more of an impact. I certainly felt that this was true when I was a missionary in Jamaica. People were always commenting, “You guys (friars) are different. You are always joyful and approachable. You are with us!” Pope Francis writes, “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 . . . 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” (24).
The joyful of season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, March 5th. Perhaps we could use the apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, for meditation and to make a renewed effort to live the Gospel with joy.
--Br. Vincent Delorenzo, OFM