Thursday, December 5, 2013

Papa Bergoglio invites us to feel better

An experiential and emotional response to the “good news” (or gospel) of Jesus Christ provides the opening for Pope Francis’ first document addressed to the whole world that is entirely his. From what follows I surmise that Papa Bergoglio is not merely following form; he is sharing his experience and his feelings with us, and assuming that he feels as every Christian does.

“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus,” is the first sentence, so very un-papally reader friendly, without stern finger wagging. To Francis the encounter and its consequences are not something you must and should do, but rather something entirely voluntary, a matter of becoming one of “those who accept his offer of salvation.”

Jesus offers, you accept. Or not.

But, hey, if you do you are “set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.” Not a bad deal, but it’s not one to be hoarded as if it were a cache of Black Friday purchases. Instead, it’s something he wants all those who take advantage of the salvation “sale” to tell everyone else how and where to get it.

The word for that in Catholicspeak is evangelization, or speading the gospel (from the Anglo-Saxon “good spell,” meaning good story).

Francis next provides an example, himself addressing those in the reading stadium, as if he were Billy Graham: step right up, right now and pray to Jesus. He even gives us the words to use:

Lord, I have let myself be deceived; 
in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, 
yet here I am once more, 
to renew my covenant with you. 
I need you. 
Save me once again, Lord, 
take me once more into your redeeming embrace.

That’s what I did; I prayed and felt a lot better. 

Francis is right: it feels good, we don’t have to accept a life of grasping consumption and a “feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures” that keeps out concern for the poor and others and leaves us “resentful, angry and listless.”

Next: the document’s context and significance beyond this very personal opening to the reader.

1 comment:

  1. His prayer "Lord, I have let..." is so ..."Davidic" ( word), so psalm-like.

    It also reminds me of prayer of my time in the charismatic renewal.


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