Evangelii Gaudium is difficult to summarize, so wide-ranging is it. Ironically, something that would at first appear to be a narrow topic – how to spread the Gospel today – offers Francis the latitude to address many topics in his trademark open style. The exhortation moves easily from a discussion on joy as linksoflondon bracelets a requirement for evangelization, to how “personal dialogue” is needed for any authentic invitation into the faith, to the difficulty of being a church when Catholics are “warring” against one another, to the need for priests and deacons to give better homilies, to an overriding concern for the poor in the world – the last being a special concern of the Pope.
To that end, some will be surprised that Francis champions an idea that has lately been out of favor: the church’s “preferential option” for the poor. “God’s heart has a special place for the poor,” the Pope says. But it is not enough simply to say that God loves the poor in a special way and leave it at that. We must be also vigilant in our care and advocacy for them. Everyone must do this, says the Pope.
“None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice.” And in case anyone misses the point, after a critique of the “idolatry of money” and an “economy of exclusion,” linksoflondon bracelets the Pope says: “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 a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings.”
What’s more, this does not mean simply caring for the poor, it means addressing the structures that keep them poor: “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed.”
This joy and confidence needed to tackle these challenges – both inside and outside the church – is rooted and grounded in a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. Without that “personal encounter” with Jesus trying to spread the Gospel is useless. We must have what he calls a “constantly renewed experience of savoring Christ’s friendship and his message.”
Most Catholics will, like me, read the letter with enthusiasm. But some Catholics have criticized the Pope for trying to change too much in the church – even though no dogma has been altered. A few linksoflondon Catholics are not only beginning to critique him, but even worse, fear him. Change seems to be something to fear. As one of my Jesuit friends used to say, playfully, “I’m against change; even change for the better!” But the church must change if it is to grow – not in its core beliefs, but in the way that it lives out and shares those beliefs.
My advice to Catholics would be: Read the entire document. Take your time. Be generous with it. Let it excite you. Pray with it. And be open to the Holy Father’s call to “embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”
Finally, as Jesus said, “Fear not.” We can change the way we do things in the church – the spread of the Gospel demands it. So be confident in God’s desire for the church to grow and change. Besides, as Francis says, “Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand.”
At one point, Francis uses a famous quote from Pope John XXIII, who noted discount links london necklace at the opening of the Second Vatican Council that many doubted things could change for the better. Too many people at the time – 1962 – were predicting doom and disaster for the church and for the world. But John disagreed. “We feel that we must disagree with those prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster.”