MOSAIC Spring 2014 - Page 13

Dr. Janet Diaz A nyone who pays attention to news coverage about the which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their pope can call to mind images of Pope Francis, possibly joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction,” breaking security protocol, reaching out to some of the most Pope Francis writes in his November 2013 apostolic exhortation, vulnerable human beings in his midst. He certainly does The Joy of the Gospel. “True faith in the incarnate Son of God “remove his sandals before the other,” so to speak, showing is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the affection towards defenseless infants, the poor in the slums of community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Rio, the mother contemplating an abortion, or disabled adults Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution and children. of tenderness” (no. 88). He intentionally touches those that many of us might Why is true faith in Jesus Christ “inseparable” from self-giving? rather avoid, defying our natural fear of these encounters and What does the pope mean when he talks about “a revolution of embodying the connection between our faith and self-giving. tenderness”? “The Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence Faith Leads to Self-Giving How do we explain the seeming Order a booklet copy of The Joy of the Gospel at www.pauline.org or download as a PDF at www.vatican.va. In his exhortation, Pope Francis speaks of the basic foundation from which all of our work of evangelization must flow. This foundation rests upon our ever-renewed, daily commitment to a deep personal encounter with Jesus Christ (cf. no. 3). And what does this foundation look like in its human expression? It is love expressed through joyful evangelization: “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. . . . In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by . . . joy” (no. 1). The joy that results from our encounter with Jesus and our acceptance of his offer of salvation is not simply a private joy. It must find expression in all of our human interaction. Within this message of encouragement, Francis repeatedly emphasizes the integrity of the gospel message. He clarifies that we should always speak of the “harmonious totality of the Christian message” (no. 39). In this sense, we are to understand as a false dichotomy the division that some pundits try to define as two camps within Christian life. There are not “social Catholics” and “doctrinal Catholics”; the message of the gospel is one integrated message that applies equally to our care of the unborn and the poor. It is God’s love which gives purpose to the lives of all and then compels us to love others: “For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (no. 8). contradiction of giving—not receiving—as a source of authentic joy? Because this joyful love cannot be expressed in a vacuum, Francis cautions that we must always remember that “the Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God” (no. 180). Although the source of our joy will forever be based, again, upon our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and our acceptance of his offer of salvation, we are expected to, in turn, mirror this joy not simply in our relationships but also in our missionary outreach. Francis assures us that it is the giving of our lives to others that helps to keep the fount of joy open and flowing. He writes about the imperative of self-giving and the ensuing happiness we experience in many different ways; one of the most tender is his description of the delight we encounter when we are honored to serve others, to “remove our sandals” in honor of the other (cf. no. 169). Who Is “the Other”? What does Pope Francis mean when he writes, in this global sense, of “the other”? This terminology often has been associated with certain philosophical schools of thought that emphasize human beings’ isolation in the world. According to this worldview, we are alone in our own personal realities, isolated within the lonely scope of our individual experiences, without any hope for lasting joy in this