Lessons from Evangelii Gaudium #15
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.
The Common Good and Peace in Society (nos. 217-230)
This section of Evangelii Gaudium is divided into four principles; we will look at the first two here.
First, Pope Francis writes, “Time is greater than space” (no. 222). He reminds the Church not to be “obsessed with immediate results” (no. 223). He counsels patient endurance in difficult situations or when our plans must change. He wants us to allow time the priority, even in evangelization.
This clearly relates to family life, especially when a child chooses to leave the faith or the family for one reason or another. The Holy Father reminds us not to give up on anyone, and to remember to trust in God’s saving work through time.
Next, the pope writes that, “Unity prevails over conflict” (no. 226). He says, “Conflict cannot be ignored or concealed. It has to be faced”(no. 226). How many families need to learn this lesson? How easy it may seem to ignore our differences, to sweep them under the rug in order to maintain a semblance of unity. On the other hand, how easy to be blinded by conflict to all the other things we have in common. Instead, we can strive to be “great persons who are willing to go beyond the surface of the conflict and to see others in their deepest dignity”(no. 228).
We learn to do this in the family, as the Pope highlighted in his 2015 Message for World Communications Day. There, he writes, “More than anywhere else, the family is where we daily experience our own limits and those of others, the problems great and small entailed in living peacefully with others. A perfect family does not exist. We should not be fearful of imperfections, weakness or even conflict, but rather learn how to deal with them constructively. The family, where we keep loving one another despite our limits and sins, thus becomes a school of forgiveness.” In the family, we love one another even when we do not get along. This can teach us how to approach people outside the family as well: as persons who are more than their opinions on a given topic. Even on the most contentious and serious issues, those on the “other side” are persons, loved by God, and must be acknowledged as such. “Unity brought by the Spirit can harmonize every diversity,” the pope writes (no. 230). By lovingly taking all family members where they are, we can realize this truth in our own lives.