Pope Francis: The 'Mission of Communicating Life'

A colleague of mine who was ruminating on the meaning of our work in Jesuit education recently sent me a passage from Pope Francis'sEvangelii Gaudium that served as a much-needed reminder of the ultimate horizon of our apostolate and of the attitude that should, even in fractured ways, permeate all that we do:

The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: “Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others”. When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfilment. For “here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. This is certainly what mission means”. Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the joy of Christ”.
 

I love these words, and like others, I want to embody this enthusiasm and joy. I also find myself immediately posing questions: Why, today, is joy difficult? Why do we need to be exhorted to it? Is it, perhaps, a problem of memory? Do we fail to remember what God has done for us? Are we groaning in our own desert, yearning for the security of captivity, impatient of what awaits?

Advertisement

Or is it one of integration? Do we struggle to integrate the Good News -- to let it seep into us, into our spiritual marrow, into the bloodstream of faith?

Is it, perhaps, something even more worrisome. Is the news of the Resurrection not enough? Has even that become matter-of-fact?

More and more, I believe that joy, like love, has to be an act of the will. This is more than a mere positive attitude; this is more than a glass-half-full mentality. It is a decision to wake up every day and see this world as redeemed, as loved, and as baptized, and to do so even when events suggest the contrary, even when it brings ridicule from the voices of others or our inner demons. Joy must be cultivated, nourished, and marked. 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Anne Chapman
4 years 3 months ago
Matt, how do you personally define "joy"? Does joy also bring happiness or are they unrelated? What gives you joy?
Monica Doyle
4 years 3 months ago
Sometimes, I am amazed that at nearly 59 years of age I learn something astonishingly new. Joy , like love, has to be an act of the will. I hope I wake up every day and make that decision.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Join Kirsten Powers, CNN analyst and USA Today columnist, and Rev. James Martin, S.J., Editor at Large of America Media and New York Times best-selling author, for a live show celebrating the 100th episode of Jesuitical.
America Media EventsApril 24, 2019
Prayers for Our Lady. Photo by Melissa Vida.
The air was still thick with smoke and the ash burnt the eyes of the onlookers, who were relieved to see the cathedral still standing. For many Catholics, the coincidence of the blaze occurring at the start of Holy Week speaks of the greater mysteries of Easter.
Melissa VidaApril 19, 2019
"Hillary and Clinton"
In Hnath’s play, Hillary has put all her bets on competence, while Bill unsurprisingly presses her to show more humanity.
Rob Weinert-KendtApril 19, 2019
The day before this issue went to press, we watched on our newsroom monitors the devastating fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris.
Matt Malone, S.J.April 19, 2019