CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

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A Church in 
the world

On the surface, there may be few surprises in the 270-word message Pope Francis broadcast to the 6,000 delegates from across Asia on October 18, the closing day of a new evangelisation conference in Manila, The Philippines—other than that he spoke publicly in English and of Asia for the first time in his pontificate.

But after greeting the people of the “great continent of Asia that is close to my heart,” his opening sentence is a repetition of what he has been saying constantly to the Church since being elected bishop of Rome in April this year, “Let Jesus be known in the world of politics, business, arts, science, technology and social media.”

He continued by saying, “I hope you would experience again the loving presence of Jesus in your lives.” His statement is built on a basic premise—that Jesus is indeed present in all facets of life.

The challenge to the Christian is to discern exactly how Jesus is present, recognise him and appreciate his presence, no matter where it may be or in what form.

It is an invitation to Christians not to be afraid of the world or shut themselves off from the world, because if Jesus is present, it cannot be such a terrifying place.

His statement needs to be read alongside his message for World Mission Day in which he describes the current challenge of the Church as renewing awareness of its presence in the contemporary world as a community of believers among the diversity of religions, people, cultures, nations and ways of life.

The pope reminded the delegates, “The Holy Spirit is active in you,” but added that the further challenge is to recognise this and not to resist his lead.

Pope Francis told the delegates that in order to be able to do this, it is necessary to experience again the loving presence of Jesus in their lives. But the first question is of course, how.

However, the pope adds a bit of his own advice, gleaned from his long years of dedicated service to the poor. “Do not get tired of bringing the mercy of the Father to the poor,” he said, “the sick, the abandoned, the young people and families.”

He interprets this as meaning the Church needs to allow the Holy Spirit to renew creation, adding the rider that this is the only way that justice will ever be brought to the corruption-riddled Philippines (or any other place).

He points to this as being the way to experience the presence of Jesus in life, of growing in love for the Church and sharing the gospel with other people in humility and joy.

The conference itself was the brainchild of the archbishop of Manila, Luis Cardinal Tagle. He said that the great challenge of our age is to make the evangelisation of the Church relevant to everyday life, so that it can truly become the salt of the earth, the light of the world and a leaven in the midst, rather than huffing and puffing to catch up in the face of changing social, technological, cultural, economic, civil and religious landscapes.

 

However, the logic of the Church is not the logic of the world, but calls for a religious logic, which is not merely commentary, but personal encounter—ultimately with God. JiM