Sunday, July 7, 2013

No fear of newness

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
July 7, 2013

Luke 10:1-12,17-20

Pope Francis is calling the Church to get out of itself, forgetting fear and self-interest, to put itself in touch with the real life of the people and make the Gospel present wherever the men and women of today are suffering and rejoicing, struggling and working.

With his unmistakable language and lively and specific words, he's opening our eyes to warn us of the risk of a Church that is asphyxiating on a self-defensive attitude -- "when the Church is shut in, it gets sick"; "I much prefer a ragged Church to one that is sick from withdrawing into itself."

Francis' watchword is clear: "The Church must go out of itself to the edge, to bear witness to the Gospel and meet others." He's not thinking theoretically, but about very concrete steps: "Let's get out of ourselves to meet poverty."

The Pope knows what he's saying. He wants to drag the current Church towards a deep evangelical renewal. It isn't easy. "Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, program and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences."

Pope Francis isn't afraid of the "newness of God." At the feast of Pentecost, he asked the whole Church an important question which we'll have to answer in the next few years: "Are we detrmined to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or have we barricaded ourselves in outdated structures which have lost their capacity to respond?"

I do not wish to hide my joy at seeing Pope Francis call us to revive in the Church the evangelizing spirit that Jesus always wished would animate his followers. Luke the evangelist reminds us of his watchwords. "Go forth." You don't have to wait for anything. We are not to detain Jesus in our parishes. We must make him known in life.

"Carry no money bag, no sack, no spare sandals." You must go out into life simply and humbly. Without privileges or power structures. The Gospel is not imposed by force. It's spread from faith in Jesus and trust in the Father.

When you enter a house, say: "Peace be to this house." That's the first thing. Leave aside condemnation, heal the sick, alleviate suffering in the world. Tell everyone that God is near and wants to see us working for a more humane life. That's the great news of the reign of God.

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