Ultimately, I want to be able to have intelligent conversations about current events, but I really don't want my own opinion. I am a follower of Jesus. In my life, what He says, goes. So I want to think what He thinks.
A few months ago I read Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, or Joy of the Gospel.
It has rocked my world and changed my life. It's mostly changed my mind about things at this point because I'm still figuring out how to live it out practically. I love all of "my" Popes (JPII, BXVI, and Francis), but it has been along time since I read something so impactful to my way of thinking. I'm still processing a lot of it (rare for me... I would love to process out loud if any one has read it or wants to read it and argue with me over how we can live this out.. that would be ideal.) I wanted to leave you with some quotes from the fourth chapter, entitled The Social Dimension of Evangelization. Everything I've written is directly from this chapter, I've used ellipses to skip over some sentences without interrupting the integrity of his intention, but read the whole thing, it's really worth it. Here are some of my favorite parts:
"The Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God... the Gospel is about the kingdom of God.... 'evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man's concrete life, both personal and social.'" (Francis quotes Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI)
"It is no longer possible to claim that religion should be restricted to the private sphere and that it exists only to prepare souls for heaven. We know that God wants his children to be happy in this world too, even though they are called to fulfillment in eternity, for he has created all things 'for our enjoyment' (1 Tim 6:17), the enjoyment of everyone.... An authentic faith-- which is never comfortable or completely personal-- always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it."
"Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid... the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity. It must be reiterated that 'the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.' (Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens)... We are not simply talking about ensuring nourishment or a 'dignified sustenance' for all people, but also their 'general temporal welfare and prosperity.'(John XIII, Mater et Magistra) This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory, and mutually supportive labor that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives. A just wage enables them to have adequate access to all the other goods which are destined for our common use."
"This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us. Not only do they share in the sensus fidei, but in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in their lives and to put them at the center of the Church's pilgrim way. We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them, and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them."
"Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved? Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labor? Let us not look the other way. There is greater complicity than we think. The issue involves everyone! This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity."
"The whole is greater than the part, but it is also greater than the sum of its parts... we constantly need to broaden our horizons and see the greater good which will benefit us all."
"Interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world.... what is not helpful is a diplomatic openness which says 'yes' to everything in order to avoid problems. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries. Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence."
Yes. Yes. Yes.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us that we may rebuild God's Church as you did.