Saturday, December 21, 2013
Pericope of the Year: The Gospel of Joy
Despite the fact that my computer's spell-checker keeps wanting to change "pericope" (a "cut-out" from a larger text, usually a biblical reading used in the divine service) to "periscope," I have periodically tried to post a pericope of the week. That practice will continue, d. v., in the new year.
Given the positive attention to Time's "Person of the Year," it is fitting that this week's pericope come from one of Pope Francis' writings. While I don't agree with everything he has said or written, either now as Pope or when he was a Cardinal (e.g., some of his comments about women are problematic, it seems to me), I do think his overall witness in word and deed has been a good development for Christians and others around the world. During this past year he has certainly been the focus of much positive attention in both my Lutheran congregation and university classroom.
The following pericope, cut out from his encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium, will serve as the final one for this year:
Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. Here I repeat for the entire Church what I have often said to the priests and laity of Buenos Aires: I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).
I highly recommend the whole encyclical. To read it in its entirety, go here.