Ministering Joyfully - Evangelii Gaudium Series #10

Ministering Joyfully

Pope Francis does not let all the challenges in society dampen his joy in the Gospel. He chooses to appreciate the positive elements alive in culture and families today (EG 116). Evangelii Gaudium invites us to have faith in families as they make progress, however slowly, and he urges us to celebrate every step people are making toward the good. Even a small step in the midst of “human limitations” is cause for hope and should bring ministers joy. The Pope applauds the popular piety in many cultures and household spirituality that is simple but deep in faith. He points out the humanism and quest for justice among people of diverse faith backgrounds and recognizes how they cooperate for peace. Especially, he counsels us to trust the faithful action of the Spirit to continue to bring good out of dire circumstances (EG 68).

If our experiences with inviting parents or ministers from other disciplines to partner with us have caused us frustration in the past, Evangelii Gaudium challenges ministers to improve our relationships with parents as co-missioners for passing on the faith: “We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders” (EG 171). A spirituality of accompaniment requires humility and patience, so Evangelii Gaudium invites us to pray with the image of the family ministry of Mother Mary, who was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus (EG 286).

Jesus is our model for evangelization, and he did not shrink from meeting people where they lived, at various levels of religious observance or moral uprightness. “We see how accessible he is, as he draws near the blind man (cf. Mk 10:46-52) and eats and drinks with sinners (cf. Mk 2:16)” (EG 269). His willingness to accompany people is attractive and motivates us to decide to reach out with joyful hearts to families in the most challenged situations: “Moved by his example, we want to enter fully into the fabric of society, sharing the lives of all, listening to their concerns, helping them materially and spiritually in their needs, rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep; arm in arm with others, we are committed to building a new world” (EG 269).