Academic journal article International Review of Mission

The Joy of the Gospel amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

The Joy of the Gospel amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment

Article excerpt

Abstract

Chapter Two of Evangelii Gaudium constitutes a major portion of the encyclical in terms of the significant concerns it raises in the area of evangelisation. This article summarises the key teachings of Chapter Two and highlights the dominant themes and salient features together with some personal reflections. In Chapter Two of the encyclical, the pope clearly elaborates on the individual and communal factors that can weaken the spirit of evangelisation and warns all to beware of the danger of falling prey to the consumerist, profit-driven, and individualistic economy and culture. He attacks the exclusive economy, globalised indifference, and the idolatrised attitude to money, and asserts that the church is duty-bound to show that there is a new and better way of relating to God, others, and the world. This responsibility, first and foremost, rests with evangelicen, who must be witnesses of the good news through their lives of generosity, courage, commitment, and community consciousness. The heart of the second chapter's message is a plea to all pastoral workers to come out of their private spheres, to recognise their place in the larger human family, and to engage in pastoral activities as a community in a revolution of tenderness.

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If the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG) (1) is about the joy of the gospel, as its title indicates, the second chapter is precisely about the root causes for the lack of joy. Chapter Two makes a humble admission of the absence of joy and a courageous examination of the reasons for the same. Good news brings joy to the receiver, and to the bearer an experience of encountering joy anew. Therefore, a hesitant or melancholic evangelizer is a contradiction in terms. True life and true joy are found in imparting the same to others through a process of reaching out to those in need ([paragraph] 10). There is need of an evangelical discernment, an approach nourished by the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, so that the joy of the gospel can be transmitted without hindrance.

A separate reading of Chapter Two may impress upon the reader as dwelling on the negative, exposing the wounds of human predicament and ecclesial problems in all its rawness. Juxtaposed between themes of a church that goes forth in Chapter One and evangelization as the task proper to the church in Chapter Three, the second chapter examines the ailments that currently inflict the church in general and pastoral personnel in particular. In it, Pope Francis exposes the futility of the "trickle down" theories of economic growth according to which the profits of the rich will inevitably aid the situation of the poor. This section also examines the secularization of cultures that distances the everyday life of human beings from the beauty of the Christian message. (2) With these introductory notes, we shall delve deeper into the content of Chapter Two.

The Title: Amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment

Chapter Two is probably the most controversial section of the entire document. To begin with, the title of the chapter sounds confusing. The first and immediate impression one may get is that communal commitment is a crisis and that the church finds itself in the midst of it. The first question, then, would be how can commitment, which is positive, be a crisis? Additionally, in some cultures the term "communal" has the connotation of conflicts or clashes between two religious groups or communities and has an obvious negative bearing. At deeper analysis and from reading the content of Chapter One understands that the crisis refers to a lack of communal commitment rather than communal commitment itself as a situation of crisis. The crisis is precisely the lacuna of communal commitment. In this chapter, the word "communal" can, with some modifications, be alternatively rendered as "community," "common," "together," "as church," "as Christians," "as evangelizers," and "as one human family. …

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