Thursday, 28 March 2013

Pope Francis' Call to Go Out!

Holy Thursday: Pope Francis kisses feet of youth in detention centre
Pope Francis means business. He is quickly giving a clear and definite direction to the Church.

The Church exists for mission and needs to get out into the world, to be with people as bearers of Christ’s presence and love in the reality of their lives.

Speaking to priests at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday he said:

“We need to'go out', then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the 'outskirts' where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.”

And what he emphasised in that homily he enacted later on Holy Thursday, when he celebrated the Mass of the Lord Supper, not in the splendour of St Peter’s Basilica, but in a Roman Detention Centre for youth where he washed and kissed the feet of 12 young people, including two girls.

This "going out" to where Christ’s light and grace are most needed is how he has lived his vocation and priestly ministry for many years.

Before the conclave began he spoke to the cardinals about the dangers of narcissism, of a Church caught up in herself. Here is a passage from that short speech, just now made public.

“Evangelizing pre-supposes a desire in the Church to come out of herself. The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery.

When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick. (cf. The deformed woman of the Gospel). The evils that, over time, happen in ecclesial institutions have their root in self-referentiality and a kind of theological narcissism.

In Revelation, Jesus says that he is at the door and knocks. Obviously, the text refers to his knocking from the outside in order to enter in. But I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. The self-referential Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out.

Put simply, there are two images of the Church: the Church which evangelizes and comes out of herself, and the worldly Church, living within herself, of herself, for herself.”
The Lord has given us a pastor "after his own heart", a shepherd's heart.
This Pope is seeking, in the grace of the Spirit, to model for the Church the core of the Gospel of God's redeeming grace.