Friday, December 6, 2013

Traveling new paths

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
December 8, 2013

Matthew 3:1-12

Around the year 27 or 28, an original and independent prophet appeared in the desert of Jordan who made a strong impact on the Jewish people -- the first generations of Christians always saw him as the man who prepared the way for Jesus. His whole message could be condensed in one cry: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." After twenty centuries, Pope Francis is shouting the same message to us Christians: Open the way for God, come back to Jesus, receive the Gospel.

His purpose is clear: "We are seeking to be a Church that finds new ways." It won't be easy. We have spent these last years paralyzed by fear. The Pope isn't surprised: "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." And he asks us a question which we are to answer: "Are we determined to strike out along the new paths which God's newness sets before us, or do we barricade ourselves in outdated structures which have lost their capacity to respond?"

Some sectors of the Church are asking the Pope to undertake various reforms they consider urgent as soon as possible. However, Francis has expressed his position clearly: "Some are expecting and have asked me for reforms in the Church and there should be. But first, a change in attitude is necessary."

Pope Francis' gospel foresight seems admirable to me. The first thing isn't signing reformist decrees. First, it's necessary to put the Christian communities in a state of conversion and recover within the Church the most basic gospel attitudes. Only in that climate will it be possible to undertake efficiently and with a gospel spirit the reforms the Church urgently needs.

Francis is showing us every day the changes in attitude that we need. I will point out some very important ones. Putting Jesus at the center of the Church: "A Church that doesn't lead to Jesus is a dead Church." Not living in a closed and self-referential Church: "A Church that is locked in the past betrays its own identity." Acting always motivated by God's mercy towards all His children: Not cultivating a "restorationist and legalistic Christianity that wants everything clear and secure, and finds nothing." "Seeking a poor Church and for the poor." Anchoring our lives in hope, not "in our rules, our ecclesial behavior, our clericalisms."

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