Fr Stefan reflects on Pope Francis ‘Joy of the Gospel’ beginning chapter 3 The Proclamation of the Gospel

Pope Francis writes, “There can be no true evangelization without the explicit proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord…Evangelization is the task of the Church. The Church, as the agent of evangelization, is more than an organic and hierarchical institution; she is first and foremost a people advancing towards God….The salvation which God has wrought, and the Church joyfully proclaims, is for everyone. God has found a way to unite himself to every human being in every age. He has chosen to call them together as a people and not as isolated individuals. No one is saved by himself or herself, individually, or by his or her own efforts. God attracts us by taking into account the complex interweaving of personal relationships entailed in the life of a human community. This people which God as chosen and called is the Church.”

No one is saved by them self. No man is an island. To quote John Donne, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main, if a clod washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for me.”

With this poetic line, “No man is an island entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent…”, I would like to give this extended quote from Cardinal Ratzinger in his book, ‘Eschatology’ ” How can a mother, who has died, be completely and unreservedly happy as long a one of her children is suffering? First we can ask whether a human being can be said to have reached his fulfillment and destiny so long as others suffer on account of him, so long as the guilt whose source he is persists on earth and brings pain to other people… The guilt that goes on because of me is part of me. Reaching as it does deep into me, it is part of my abandonment to time, whereby human being really do continue to suffer on my account and which, therefore still affects me. Incidentally, this enables us to grasp the inner connection between the dogmas of Mary’s freedom from sin and assumption into Heaven. Mary is fully in the Father’s house, since no guilt came from her to make people suffer…How can a mother be completely and unreservedly happy so long as one of her children is suffering?…Purgatory means still unresolved guilt, a suffering which continue to radiate out because of guilt. Purgatory means than suffering to the end what one has left behind on earth-in the certainty of being definitively accepted, yet having to bear the infinite burden of the withdrawn beloved. ‘Heaven’, in the the period of final perfection means being drawn into the fullness of divine joy…Heaven will only be complete when all the members of the Lord’s Body are gathered in.” 

I use this image of Heaven. Heaven is a huge family reunion. Heaven will only begin when we are all there. We cannot fully enter into Heaven as long as people suffer because of our sins. No man is an island.

In closing like to quote from this song by Dana, ‘We are One Body’ 

We are one body, one body in Christ

And we do not stand alone.

We are one body, one body in Christ

And He came came that we might have life

1 thought on “Fr Stefan reflects on Pope Francis ‘Joy of the Gospel’ beginning chapter 3 The Proclamation of the Gospel”

  1. Fr. Stefan– thanks so much for doing these reflections. I was in our TMIY small group last Saturday when we talked about this and now follow your blog regularly! Just picked up a copy of Joy of the Gospel as well! Thanks!

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