An Advent Journey with Pope Francis and Evangelii Gaudium, Part 4
Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”. (Evangelii Gaudium, 15″)
How many parishes and dioceses answered the call for a new evangelization by rolling out new catechetical programs? How many times have we heard priests and bishops emphasize doctrine over the joy of a personal relationship with our loving God? How many times have we used the Eucharistic table (our most treasured banquet) as a tool of judgment and exclusion? And, we wonder why so few want to join us…and why so many are leaving.
From the moment he stepped out on the balcony at St. Peter’s, Pope Francis has shown himself to be more concerned with being a loving pastor than a doctrinal watch-dog. He lives the old adage that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Again, it goes back to joy. Preaching a message filled with “thou shalt nots” will only draw the fearful and guilt-ridden; or the judgmental who love to point fingers at those who are doing the things they shalt not be doing!
Francis does not water down the gospel message. This man who preaches joy never tires of challenging us to follow in the footsteps of the compassionate Jesus. He speaks of sin, but always in the same breath as God’s mercy. He challenges us while pointing to horizons of beauty and delicious banquets.