Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Reflection on Pope Francis' Homily

Today, Pope Francis celebrated the Holy Mass with the Bishops of the 28th WYD and with Priests, Religious and Seminarians in the Cathedral of St. Sebastian. His homily was a powerful message to all who heard it in person and for those like myself who listened via the internet. I think the message is one that can be reflected on by all Glenmarians and those who are discerning their call with Glenmary. In his talk he spoke of "three aspects of our vocation: we are called by God, called to proclaim the Gospel, and called to promote the culture of encounter."

Francis said, "We were called by God and we were called to be with Jesus."  Throughout my life I must strive to never forget that calling I received. It would be too easy to let the day to day administrative work or the "daily grind" wear me out.  But his words remind me that I am to stay connected to that call and through my prayer continue to grow closer to God.

Francis went on to say that “'Being with' Christ does not isolate us from others. Rather, it is a “being with” in order to go forth and encounter others... It is in the favelas, in the cantegriles, in the villas miseria, that one must go to seek and to serve Christ." In a way, this is the mission of Glenmary by serving in the poorest areas of the United States. We go out to the forgotten and neglected areas of the United States in order to share that love of Christ with those that we meet.

We are all called to proclaim the Gospel. "God asks us to be missionaries where we are, where He puts us! ... the call to be missionary disciples flows from our baptism and is an essential part of what it means to be a Christian." Most Glenmarians are born and raised in the United States, they realize that they have a unique missionary call not to travel to a foreign land but are called to serve the needs where God put them, right here in their own backyard. Just as Francis said,  "We are called first to evangelize in our own homes and our places of study and work, to evangelize our family and friends."

Glenmarians are the first Catholic ministers to serve in these territories, places where the sacraments have never been celebrated on a regular basis. Places where the poverty level is generally 2 to 3 times the national level. And as Francis reminded his listeners, "We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people!" This is one aspect that Glenmarians do very well, whether it is actively knocking on doors, participating in the community or reaching out to the sick and imprisoned, Glenmarians are known to be out in the streets looking to connect with the community, not in the church waiting for someone to enter.

Finally Francis reminded us that we are "called to promote the culture of encounter." I think that as Glenmarians we do promote the culture of encounter but maybe we are being called to do it better. Francis said that, "generally in this economic humanism that prevails in the world, the culture of exclusion, of rejection, is spreading. There is no place for the elderly or for the unwanted child; there is no time for that poor person on the edge of the street."

I think that Francis' words go out to all of us whether we heard them in person or not, whether we are Glenmarian or not. The fact remains as baptized Catholics attempting to follow the Gospels means that we must "have the courage to go against the tide. Let us not reject this gift of God which is the one family of his children. Encountering and welcoming everyone, solidarity... this is a word that in this culture is being hidden away, as if it was a swear word... solidarity and fraternity: these are what make our society truly human."

How am I called to promote the culture encounter today?

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