Friday, 17 January 2014

Evangelii Gaudium: A mission embodied in human limits

The fourth section of Chapter One of Evangelii Gaudium is entitled "A Mission Embodied within Human Limits". There are a couple of paragraphs in this section that contain examples of Pope Francis' beauty in use of language.

In no.42, Pope Francis writes about the nature of faith. My italics, not present in the original text, indicate the phrases which caught my attention :
.... we will never be able to make the Church’s teachings easily understood or readily appreciated by everyone. Faith always remains something of a cross; it retains a certain obscurity which does not detract from the firmness of its assent. Some things are understood and appreciated only from the standpoint of this assent, which is a sister to love, beyond the range of clear reasons and arguments. We need to remember that all religious teaching ultimately has to be reflected in the teacher’s way of life, which awakens the assent of the heart by its nearness, love and witness.
No. 45 is the paragraph which summarises this section, and it is the image of shoes soiled by the mud of the street which caught my eye:
We see then that the task of evangelization operates within the limits of language and of circumstances. It constantly seeks to communicate more effectively the truth of the Gospel in a specific context, without renouncing the truth, the goodness and the light which it can bring whenever perfection is not possible. A missionary heart is aware of these limits and makes itself “weak with the weak... everything for everyone” (1 Cor 9:22). It never closes itself off, never retreats into its own security, never opts for rigidity and defensiveness. It realizes that it has to grow in its own understanding of the Gospel and in discerning the paths of the Spirit, and so it always does what good it can, even if in the process, its shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.
One should note, for those who might read this as a compromise of the call to Christian perfection, that Pope Francis has just indicated in no.44 that the need to" accompany with mercy and patience" those who are being evangelised does not imply "detracting from the evangelical ideal".

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