Published on March 20, 2014
Pope Francis: a mission embodied within human limits From The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii gaudium) nn. 40-42 by Pope Francis
IV. A mission embodied within human limits 40. The Church is herself a missionary disciple; she needs to grow in her interpretation of the revealed word and in her understanding of truth. It is the task of exegetes and theologians to help “the judgment of the Church to mature”. The other sciences also help to accomplish this, each in its own way. With reference to the social sciences, for example, John Paul II said that the Church values their research, which helps her “to derive concrete indications helpful for her magisterial mission”. Pauline.org
Within the Church countless issues are being studied and reflected upon with great freedom. Differing currents of thought in philosophy, theology and pastoral practice, if open to being reconciled by the Spirit in respect and love, can enable the Church to grow, since all of them help to express more clearly the immense riches of God’s word. Pauline.org
For those who long for a monolithic body of doctrine guarded by all and leaving no room for nuance, this might appear as undesirable and leading to confusion. But in fact such variety serves to bring out and develop different facets of the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel. Pauline.org
41. At the same time, today’s vast and rapid cultural changes demand that we constantly seek ways of expressing unchanging truths in a language which brings out their abiding newness. “The deposit of the faith is one thing... the way it is expressed is another”. Pauline.org
There are times when the faithful, in listening to completely orthodox language, take away something alien to the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, because that language is alien to their own way of speaking to and understanding one another. With the holy intent of communicating the truth about God and humanity, we sometimes give them a false god or a human ideal which is not really Christian. Pauline.org
In this way, we hold fast to a formulation while failing to convey its substance. This is the greatest danger. Let us never forget that “the expression of truth can take different forms. The renewal of these forms of expression becomes necessary for the sake of transmitting to the people of today the Gospel message in its unchanging meaning”. Pauline.org
42. All of this has great relevance for the preaching of the Gospel, if we are really concerned to make its beauty more clearly recognized and accepted by all. Of course, we will never be able to make the Church’s teachings easily understood or readily appreciated by everyone. Faith always remains something of a cross; it retains a certain obscurity which does not detract from the firmness of its assent. Pauline.org
Some things are understood and appreciated only from the standpoint of this assent, which is a sister to love, beyond the range of clear reasons and arguments. We need to remember that all religious teaching ultimately has to be reflected in the teacher’s way of life, which awakens the assent of the heart by its nearness, love and witness. http://bit.ly/18B5RDK Pauline.org
For reflection & prayer Have I ever encountered what could be considered an outmoded expression of a valid doctrinal or spiritual principle? For example: What does it mean to “ascend the mount of perfection”? How would I rephrase that for today’s saints who struggle with evil in and around themselves? Lord, you know that ambiguity and ambivalence don’t make you easy to follow: I can’t control you! But I also know that these can be a means of grace: The Spirit blows where it wills (see Jn. 3:8). Help me to believe that you don’t expect me to have all the answers, but that you just ask me not to stop seeking.
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