Encounter with person of Christ lifts up the human person, it illuminates his dignity and transforms him, making it necessary for him to share this good news — this joy — this countercultural revolutionary tenderness and mercy, grace and salvation. Understanding this is understanding Evangelii Gaudium, the new document from Pope Francis. The Huffington Post might highlight his critiques of unfettered capitalism (not a new papal position) and I might highlight his noting that Church teaching won’t change on abortion. If either of us miss the source and summit, the center and focus: Christ and our call to a Trinitarian reality, we’ve missed the point, the mission, the purpose of our lives.
The point — the radical mission — is ever-ancient, every new. Just yesterday as it happened, a reading from Pope Leo the Great set the stage for “The Joy of the Gospel” in the Liturgy of the Hours:
For the man who loves God it is sufficient to please the one he loves; and there is no greater recompense to be sought than the loving itself; for love is from God by the very fact that God himself is love. The good and chaste soul is so happy to be filled with him that it desires to take delight in nothing else. For what the Lord says is very true: Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. What is a man’s treasure but the heaping up of profits and the fruit of his toil? For whatever a man sows this too will he reap, and each man’s gain matches his toil; and where delight and enjoyment are found, there the heart’s desire is attached. Now there are many kinds of wealth and a variety of grounds for rejoicing; every man’s treasure is that which he desires. If it is based on earthly ambitions, its acquisition makes men not blessed but wretched.
Go forth in joy. It’ll give peace a chance. For as Pope Francis puts it: “If hearts are shattered in thousands of pieces, it is not easy to create authentic peace in society.”
He urges us to pray, daily: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.”