In his first Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis reflects on how the Church can continue to follow Jesus’ command to “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19)” through what the Catholic Church now calls “the new evangelization.”
Pope Francis defines an evangelizing community as one that knows that the Lord “has loved us first and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads, and welcome the outcast.” In this way, the Holy Father challenges us to bring the Gospel to all people without exclusion.
This new evangelization or “going forth” is no longer just for those who do not yet know Jesus (such as those who have not yet been baptized) but particularly to the baptized “whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism.” As disciples, we are called to share our faith through actions more than just with words. And we are called to share our faith with everyone, even those with whom we might disagree or dislike.
The responsibility of sharing the Good News of Christ and seeking the lost sheep is no longer only for ordained clergy or members of religious orders; nor only for catechists or directors of faith formation; nor only pastoral ministers or parish staff. Rather, every member of our Church is called to play a crucial role in this evangelical work. Each of us is called to communicate the central message of our Catholic faith: God loves us in His Son and bestows upon us His endless and enduring mercy. In turn, we are called to respond to God’s love by going forth and sharing his love with others.
Pope Francis reminds us that what should disturb our consciences is “the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light, and consolation born of the friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.” We sometimes forget that our Church community is the house of the Father. Here, everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church and be a part of our community. Here, there is a place for everyone, “with all their problems.” In this new evangelization, Pope Francis calls us to be “facilitators” of God’s grace rather than arbitrators or toll-takers. The sharing of the Gospel message is always the work of the Lord. We are called to cooperate and to become co-workers with Him.
As we celebrate World Mission Sunday, we pray for those who continue to share the Gospel and make known Jesus Christ in every nation throughout the world. We pray for our own missionaries journeying to Cevicos in the Dominican Republic for their service week. And we pray for each other so that we might respond to the Gospel by sharing the love of God with all people. Let us, then, go and make disciples! Peace and blessings to all!
Founded in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Our collaborative is comprised of Saint Ann Church in Gloucester, Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Gloucester, Saint Joachim Church in Rockport, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester. We are a Roman Catholic faith community united in prayer, fellowship, and service. For more information, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome!