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

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