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.
Person to Person
Every day, Pope Francis says, we are responsible for a kind of simple “informal preaching” to our family, friends and neighbors (no. 127). Sharing the love of Christ with them is our mission. The Holy Father points out that in dialogue, listening is the first step, “when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs” (no. 128). It is when a person is listened to and respected that they may be open to hearing God’s word from one who is humble and “always willing to learn, in the awareness that the message is so rich and so deep that it always exceeds our grasp” (no. 128).
Christians do not approach others with all the answers. We do not have neat, simple formulas to solve the world’s problems. Our message must never be reduced to platitudes. What the Church has is the message of love and mercy: a God who became man; who suffered, died, and rose again for us. There are as many ways of sharing this message as there are human beings.
Pope Francis focuses on the simple person to person encounters that happen every day. Christians are reminded by this to pay attention to the opportunities of the present moment, the here-and-now. This can be undermined in some ways by too strong a reliance on technology or social media for communication. Technology should be in the service of human relationships, not in replacement of them. There are many reflections on this, even in our own culture, that are worth thinking about. The Holy Father also reflects on this when he addresses the media for World Communications Day every year. He reminds us, “The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us” (“Message for the 48th World Communications Day”).
This week, can your family make a special effort to connect with others in your community? Can you start a conversation about something meaningful by the soccer field, or invite an elderly neighbor for dinner?