I”ll be speaking at a Faith on Tap event here on Long Island on Monday. The topic for the evening is “Living the joy that comes from knowing and following Christ …. The Center of the New Evangelization.” Its quite a wide ranging topic. Well, it seems it just because even wider and more intense. As everyone knows by now, Pope Francis gave a very lengthy interview to the world’s jesuit journals. It can be read here. I say my topic for monday just got wider and more intense because all of a sudden its cool to be Catholic again. Yay us! The things Pope Francis speaks of in his interview touch the heart. His words touch all of us.
Something has changed in the air. The media is positive towards the church once again. People are returning to the faith because of the sincerity and joy they see in Pope Francis. This of course isn’t to say that Pope Benedict or his successors weren’t sincere or joyful. Anyone that knows me, knows just know much I love Pope-Emeritus Benedict. But what amazes me today is they way in which Francis is being received by the world. He seems to be reaching people that were previously thought unreachable. And I’m sure its because of his Joy. He speaks of the mercy of God and of the acceptance of God. Constantly. He doesn’t need to add a ‘but’ or an ‘unless’ after that statements. God loves us because he created us. He loves us no matter what our sins are. If that truth doesn’t bring joy to your life then I don’t know what will.
I’m not going to go in depth to the Papal interview, mainly because so many others have. I’d rather let his words speak for themselves. There is no need to explain them away, or to ‘spin’ them. As a young priest I must say how he is encouraging me and influencing my ministry. He has called for balance in our preaching, in our teaching and in our lives. He has called for the confessional to be a place of mercy, not of torture. When I meet with couples not married in the Church I find myself not ‘correcting’ them, but rather inviting them to encounter the beauty that is sacramental marriage. There is to me a huge difference between directing people, and inviting people. We are called to invite people to meet Jesus. It’s clear that we have to do that from a place of joy, and love. Just as he is doing it.
I promise not to just read the interview out loud at that Faith on Tap event on Monday. Even if I’m tempted to and am convinced it would serve everyone in attendance better!
For those interested in attending Monday’s Faith on Tap it will be held at the Wantagh Inn, in Wantagh. The doors open upstairs at 6:45 for dinner and drinks! The talk will start at 7:30 PM. There will be food, and beer and joy! Lots and lots of joy! Click here for more information.