Father Stefan reflects on Pope Francis ‘Joy of the Gospel’ Reason for a Renewed Missionary impluse

Pope Francis writes, ‘The primary reason for evangelizing is the Love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known? If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts and shake up our lukewarm and superficial existence…It is impossible to persevere in a fervent evangelization unless we are convinced from personal experience that it is not the same thing to known Jesus as not to have known him, not the same thing to hear his word as not to know it, and not the same thing thing to contemplate him, to worship him, to find our peace in him as not to.”

Evangelization is all about Jesus. Do we know Jesus or just know about him? In Matthew Gospel, “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do men say that the Son of Man is?’ and they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.'”(Mat 16: 13-17)

We can confuse knowledge about Jesus with knowing Jesus. We might know a lot about Jesus but not know Him personally. We can know what the crowds say about Jesus. We can even teach people about Jesus and still not know him. Jesus says to us, “But who do you say that I am?” Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Do you remember the time and place that you first meet Jesus? What happened to the disciples is meant to happen to us, “As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you.’ But they were started and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your heart? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have. And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his feet.”(Lk 24: 36-40)

Let us take to heart the words that John Paul II said as he began his pastoral ministry, ” Do not be afraid! Open, indeed, open wide the doors to Christ! Open to his saving power…Do not be afraid! Christ knows ‘what is inside a person.’ Only he knows!…Opening wide the doors to Christ, accepting him into humanity itself posed absolutely no threat to persons, indeed it is the only road to take to arrive at the total truth and the exalted value of the human individual.”

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