Pentecost, Pope Francis, and the New Evangelization

Pope Francis

On Pentecost, Pope Francis delivered a terrific message on the New Evangelization, answering a set of questions that were provided him in advance. In the talk, Francis shares some very moving moments from his own life. He tells the world about his own inklings of a calling, of his vocation; that God was calling him. He tells of a moving experience of confession, where he felt drawn by God to confess his sins to a priest he ran across on the street, only to encounter the God Who had been waiting for him. His words reminded me of Pope Benedict XVI’s comments about two years ago to the effect that, “the new evangelization will pass through the confessional.”

For me, one of the encouraging marks of Francis’ message was how he attempted to light a fire under our feet to go out and share Jesus, spreading the peace and joy of the Lord whereever the Lord has placed us. In his comments he displayed what I think is a sincere humility; Francis’ desire to hide and disappear and let Jesus alone shine through. At one point he asks the crowd to stop cheering, “Francis,” and instead cheer for “Jesus.” His core message is right—we need to use our words to help others encounter God. His story of his mother and grandmother should encourage us to speak and model a life of faith among our family and friends, colleagues and neighbors. We have to open our mouths and help others. This requires, often, that we first open our ears and eyes and hear and see what their needs are. And of course, we cannot share what we do not have. We must have a personal encounter with God, with Jesus, in order to be able to live the attractive life of faith Francis is calling us to—in order to help others encounter God the transformer of lives. To do this, we need to pray, we need the Sacraments (particularly frequent confession and Eucharist), and we need to seek God’s face in Scripture. Here’s a link to a video (about 38 minutes) of Francis’ message: http://player.vimeo.com/video/66625658?title=0

About Jeffrey L. Morrow

Jeff Morrow is Associate Professor of Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. He also serves as a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Jeff earned his Ph.D. (2007) in Theology at the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, in the program on the U.S. Catholic Experience, where he focused on historical theology and the history of biblical exegesis. He earned his M.A. (2003) in Theological Studies, with a focus on Biblical Studies, also at the University of Dayton. He earned his B.A. (2001) at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, where he double majored in Comparative Religion and Classical Greek, and minored in Jewish Studies. Jeff originally comes from a Jewish background; he attended Hebrew school and had a bar mitzvah. In 1997 he became an evangelical Protestant and was heavily involved with para-church ministry as an undergraduate student. He entered the Catholic Church, Easter Vigil 1999. Jeff is a popular speaker who speaks regularly at parishes and schools, as well as at larger events. He has made popular presentations at the Applied Biblical Studies and the Defending the Faith Conferences at Franciscan University of Steubenville, as well as with the Coming Home Network International. He has also published in popular periodicals including This Rock, The Catholic Answer and New Oxford Review. Jeff's scholarly work is primarily in the history of biblical interpretation, but he has also presented academic papers, and published scholarly articles, on a variety of topics related to theology, religion and the Bible. He has published scholarly works in academic journals including New Blackfriars, Pro Ecclesia, Toronto Journal of Theology, and the Evangelical Review of Theology. He has also made scholarly presentations before a number of learned societies, including the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature and the College Theology Society. He currently resides with his wife Maria (a doctoral candidate in Theology, specializing in Moral Theology) their four children Maia, Eva, Patrick, and Robert, in New Jersey.
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