EG 20: A Church Which Goes Forth

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneSections 20 through 24 of Evangelii Gaudium examines “A Church which goes forth.”

Let’s read:

20. The word of God constantly shows us how God challenges those who believe in him “to go forth”. Abraham received the call to set out for a new land (cf. Gen 12:1-3). Moses heard God’s call: “Go, I send you” (Ex 3:10) and led the people towards the promised land (cf. Ex 3:17). To Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer 1:7). In our day Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth”. Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel.

The call of Old Testament figures is cited, and these stories are among the most memorable moments of the story of Israel. Perhaps it can be too easy to dismiss this call personally. “I am not a patriarch. I am not a prophet. I’m just an average person.”

Another image is that of pilgrim and pilgrimage. A common pre-conciliar sensibility was that Catholics are just wayfarers in the world, a world to which we do not belong. We make our way, and we make it through an alien landscape. Is it a big jump to consider whole communities being called out of comfort zones? Let’s recall also that formative event of salvation history: the deliverance of an entire nation from the slavery of Egypt, and succeeding, through impossible odds, and with God’s help, in accepting God’s call to be a chosen people.

Striking to me as I read this section was the emphasis on the “changing scenarios and ever new challenges” facing the Church’s mission. Life is difficult. Would we expect it to be less so for believers looking for a challenge? Why would we think the pilgrimage is over?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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