We are called to an even deeper commitment to make of this parish a home for all who enter our doors, a place of holy encounter with Christ and with one another, a beacon of hope for all who are searching, and a place where each of us are challenged and changed, so we can be sent out to renew the earth.
Pope Francis, in his exhortation to the Church, Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel, in which he lays out his vision for the Church, says, “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” Pope Francis is challenging us to become liberated from any narrowness or self-absorption, and to allow a renewed encounter with God’s love to compel us into active and intentional participation in the mission of the Church. This is the real Joy of the Gospel, when we know that the fullest truth of our being is attained in the love and service of others, especially the poor and lowly.
Everything we are and everything we do is centered in Christ. All of our parish life is first and foremost the Lord’s work; it is God’s creating, redeeming and nourishing grace that is the foundation of everything, and which mysteriously brings about, inspires, provokes, guides and accompanies us in a thousand ways. In the Joy of Gospel, Pope Francis says, “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.”
What I love most about Francis is he gives us a great example of an intentional disciple, by living simply, loving joyfully, serving others tenderly, speaking truth with love, and inviting all to a life in Christ, especially those living closer to the cross than the resurrection.