Lessons from Evangelii Gaudium #9
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.
Culture, Thought and Education (paragraphs 132-134)
Pope Francis writes that “Proclaiming the Gospel message to different cultures also involves proclaiming it to professional, scientific and academic circles” (no. 132). It may be tempting to leave the towers of academia untouched by our missionary efforts, but this would be a mistake. Pope Francis encourages us to develop a “creative apologetics”; a way of demonstrating the interaction of faith and reason and particularly the question of credibility.
St John Paul II wrote an encyclical about Faith and Reason (Fides et Ratio) in 1998. In it, he pointed out that, “the desire for truth is part of human nature itself” (no. 3). There is a certain sense in which this desire for truth is played out in a particularly strong way in “intellectual” circles. There is an almost- separate culture to academia or the professional and scientific world, which means that there is likewise a particular way of sharing the Gospel with those in them. Every authentic culture is open to revelation. As John Paul II put it, “This simple statement contains a great truth: faith’s encounter with different cultures has created something new” (no. 70). Christians who are immersed in professional, scientific and academic circles have a unique calling to call forth the desire for truth from their colleagues and to challenge any assumptions that are in conflict with it.
One of the most simple, yet eloquent ways of living the Gospel in a professional context is showing by one’s life that one’s family takes precedence over professional achievement or monetary gain. A priest who is one of many children told the following story: One day as a teenager, he accompanied his father to the hospital where his father worked, and noted the many BMWs and Lexus’s in the parking lot. He asked whether his dad was embarrassed driving a clunky van—his dad replied that his family was far more important to him than his car. This man’s faith and priority on family is a concrete witness within a professional context.