14th Sunday (C)
3rd July 2022
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“The Kingdom of God is very near to you”
Pope Francis we’re told has a bad knee and suffers from sciatica. It has led to a lot of speculation about his health. He constantly asks people to pray for him and we do.
The speculation often hinges ‘round what he has done to reform and renew the church. He has certainly surprised us many times and equally irritated many too by his decisions. He continues, despite his age, to make decisions that are challenging and visionary. His 1st letter to the church worldwide was called the “Joy of the Gospel”. In giving the church this letter, he was already pointing to the inspiration of the Gospel as the touchstone for all his plans.
And so it has been. He continually brings us back to the simplicity and direct nature of the teaching of the Lord Jesus to bring good news to the poor, to console the bereaved, to visit the prisoner, to bind up hearts that are broken. One of his earliest images of church in the world was to speak of it as a “field hospital”. His focus on the plight of migrants has been relentless over the years. In that sense he has stressed the mercy and compassion of God toward all and our call as disciples to be instruments as well as recipients of that mercy.
All the while some fear that he has not spoken boldly enough about personal sin and sexual immorality. Pope Francis has a profound sense of the importance of personal conversion – a personal yes in faith from which flows the rest by way of right living, prayer and fidelity.
This vision is especially reflected in a new letter called “Praedicate Evangelium” – Teaching / Proclaiming the Gospel. This document’s focus is the renewal of the Roman Curia – the administration of church in and from Rome. As the name suggests this work of Pope Francis is to point all church endeavours outwards from Rome to support the work of the church across the world.
An example of this is the priority now given to the “Department” (Dicastery) for the Evangelization of peoples that’s now given priority – it used to be the Holy Office. This reorientation will not happen overnight. But long after Pope Frances’ work is done, his vision for the people of God – we call the Church will still inspire because its roots are in the Gospel itself taught by the Lord Jesus.
The Gospel today speaks of the climate / circumstances in which those sent out will encounter. “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves”. “Go as a messenger of peace – if a person of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him, if not it will come back to you…..”
“Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you, cure those in it who are sick and say The Kingdom of God is very near to you”.
That’s the orientation that Pope Francis wishes for the Church in the world. That is to be the bearer of joy and hope to people’s lives. That where disciples of the Lord are found, the poor, the broken hearted, the wounded and hurt will know they have friends who care.