Monday, June 23, 2014

A Renewed and Reformed Church

Pope Francis will be coming to Korea in August, and  Korean Catholics are  enthused  partially due to the star quality of  Pope Francis. The priest writing in  a bulletin for priests mentions how the Vatican religious goods stores are selling from 70 to 80 percent more than usual thanks to the pope's popularity.  This popularity  hopefully will  translate into having more  people  interested in the Church and gain more respect for the Church in the society. However, more importantly will be for the Church to understand the meaning of the  pope's words and actions and bring about renewal and reform within the Church.

The pope will  be attracting our attention in  unfavorable circumstances to an appreciation of the joy of the Gospel. 'Joy of the Gospel' shows us the importance of evangelization but it is not just to increase the number of our Catholics but an evangelization inviting all of humanity to the Trinitarian  intimacy and  the love in unity.  The washing of the feet of a Muslim child is a sign of this vision. Jesus  wanted all humanity to accept the Fatherhood of  God, and this is the vision that Francis want us to have. He continues the article  showing some of the other aspects of the renewal and reform.

Pope Francis wants us first, to be  a poor Church.  "This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us"( #198). How do we go about being a poor Church? We cannot  have renewal without becoming a poor Church. Operations  with an eye for  profit and big welfare projects, there is more  lost than  gained. Making the Church vital requires that  we  deepen our spirituality of poverty. In these times of greed, the spirit of poverty is the means of healing. We have to train workers to be friends to  the  poor. The poor  evangelize us to be a Church of the poor.

The Church, secondly, needs to be prophetic. "Yet if he does not take time to hear God’s word with an open heart, if he does not allow it to touch his life, to challenge him, to impel him, and if he does not devote time to pray with that word, then he will indeed be a false prophet, a fraud, a shallow impostor" (#151) These words of Francis  will open us up to be opposed, but that is our glory.

Thirdly, we need to leave our comfort zone, be open and be a Church that goes out to others. This, says the writer, the pope mentions on a number of occasions in the Joy of the Gospel. We need to be interested in the needs of the people. We need to leave the sacristy to be with the people. This needs to be part of the daily life, visiting homes, the sick and  weekly giving of the sacraments to the sick.

There is a need of hearing the cries of the people, their pain, their complaints and being with them. They will make known their inner desire and be open to the answers from the Gospel. We have to show them the Gospel life. "We do not live better when we flee, hide, refuse to share, stop giving and lock ourselves up in own comforts. Such a life is nothing less than slow suicide" (#272). When we go out to others it will seem at times that we are facing death, but we will be refreshed and concludes, be walking on water.

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