Today, March 13th, five years have passed since Pope Francis sits on the Chair of St. Peter and it shines with a unique light that manifests the working of the Spirit in the Church.
Evangelii Gaudium Laudato Sì Amoris Laetitita Joy, Praise and Love. The very names of Pope Francis’ magisterial documents give one clear insight to understanding the faith in God and the trust in man that inhabit the priestly heart of Francis. A compelling biblical joy emerges: “I announce to you a great joy that will be of the entire people”. A joy that has entered the world and that is not reserved only to an exclusive elite of “pure”.
The one who speaks always and only of “doctrine” and separates it from the Gospel, which is its foundation, is a sad Christian and cannot be a credible witness. The disciples teach, first of all, with love, by accepting people as they are, by journeying with them, correcting them as a father would, but above all by contagiously attracting them through their coherent and joyful witness of Christian life.
If we do not “give up looking for those personal or communitarian remedies or fixes that permit us to maintain a distance from the crux of the human drama” (AL), we can not understand the “drama” of the Kerigma; the Kerigma is not a doctrine but a narrative that unfolds. Announcing the Gospel without personal involvement is an illusion, it is not only useless, but counterproductive. Without the smell of the sheep, the Shepherd is no longer a shepherd and becomes a wolf, he smells only of incense and of ink, he no longer wears the dirty clothes proper to the shepherd, but rather cloaks of the Constantinian era, which the sheep will not recognize.
Let’s go over some significant moments of the ministry of Pope Francis. At the end of October 2017, Pope Francis was in Lund, Sweden, to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation together with the Lutheran World Federation.
In 2016, Francis, Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic Church, and Kirill Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia (while signing a joint Declaration) embraced in Cuba. They did not propose an alliance, but pledged to walk together towards unity announcing Christ to the world. The Pope stresses that unity is realized by walking together.
Pope Francis has also undertaken with prudence and evangelical determination a path of reconciliation and dialogue with China. This process of reconciliation and dialogue takes up the important steps of his predecessors in this direction, especially the Letter to the Chinese Catholics, which perhaps was already conceived under the Pontificate of John Paul II and brought to light by Benedict XVI, and presents to China, in the course of a long and tortuous journey, a Church of dialogue, of mutual respect,and of mercy, a Church where one looks and works on “what unites us, rather than on what divides us”.
Pope Francis, as the bishop of Rome, has also indicated the direction that the Church in Italy must undertake. He began his pilgrimage in Italy from Lampedusa paying homage to two great prophetic figures, led by the Spirit namely, Don Milani and Don Mazzolari. In the coming weeks Pope Francis will continue his pilgrimage in the footsteps of Don Tonino Bello and don Zeno Saltini. In the ecclesial convention of Florence, Francis once again proposed his exhortation Evangelli Gaudium to all the Italian bishops as the principal instrument of evangelization.
We cannot forget the Jubilee of Mercy which began in one of the poorest countries in the world – the Central African Republic – offering the gift of opening the “Holy Door” not only in Rome, but throughout the world, in order to reach everyone, even those most distant.
“No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him” In other words, it is God who makes himself known through the Incarnate Word in the Son of Man, otherwise this God would not be the Christian God, but rather a concept, or even an ideological instrument, and one who doesn’t say anything to our heart. The people of God need pastors who are capable of touching the heart, they do not need instructions for use. A warm heart is like clay, more easily malleable from which little by little masterpieces are formed; in contrast, a heart that is inhabited only by instructions for use may be beautiful on the exterior, but interiorily it does not palpitate or feel and thus cannot be molded in any way.
“But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God”. In a certain sense, we are not born children of God, but we become his children. One becomes a child of God by accepting Jesus and imitating his life of love, spelled out in the Beatitudes. Pope Francis has made the Church be confronted by the Gospel and invites all of us to be imitators of Christ.
The language of Christianity is a universal language. It is a language of unity, but not of uniformity. Pope Francis, guided by the Spirit, teaches us daily to speak this universal language, the language of love in the joy of the Lord who comes and to praise the great things he has done for us and continues to do for us.