Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world, Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel,” has many points that are relevant to the work of Marriage: Unique for a Reason. This series will explore some of these themes and apply Pope Francis’s words to the culture of marriage and family in the United States.
We Are All Missionary Disciples
“The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized” (no. 120). Pope Francis includes everyone, young and old, in his call for missionary disciples. He reminds us that throughout the New Testament, those who encountered Jesus were changed and sent forth to others.
After being healed by Jesus in the Gospels, the former Gerasene demoniac wanted to stay with and follow Christ with the other disciples. Jesus “would not permit him but told him instead, ‘Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you’” (Mk 5:19). We, too, are sent home to proclaim the Gospel.
The family is the place we are first called to evangelize, and sometimes it can be the hardest. Why is this? Why does it sometimes seem more difficult to speak of what God has done in your life with your mom, dad, or sibling than with a relative stranger at a retreat? Why can it be harder to tell your own children what God’s relationship means to you than it is to tell children you teach at catechism class?
Perhaps it is because, in our families, we often assume that we know each other better than we do. We may have watched them grow up, or we have grown up under their watchful gaze, and so we assume that they have nothing new to tell us. Or, on the other hand, we are humbled because the people in our family know our faults and have seen our mistakes more than anyone else. Why would they believe what we say about God when they heard us yelling at our brother yesterday about the mess he left in the bathroom? We realize that we need to conform our lives to Christ in order to be credible witnesses.
This week, may we seek to be missionary disciples first within our own families. Then we will be even more empowered by the Spirit to, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News” (Mk 16:15).