72. In cities, as opposed to the countryside, the religious dimension of life is expressed by different lifestyles, daily rhythms linked to places and people. In their daily lives people must often struggle for survival and this struggle contains within it a profound understanding of life which often includes a deep religious sense. We must examine this more closely in order to enter into a dialogue like that of our Lord and the Samaritan woman at the well where she sought to quench her thirst (cf. Jn 4:1-15).
That “struggle for survival” strikes me. Cities are great things. We think of them as the pinnacle of civilization. But really, for many people, they’ve just opened up a new border on human mortality, sin, and uncivilized misbehavior. The frontiers about which I’ve read Pope Francis speak.
Second piece that nudges me is the reference to the woman at the well: another boundary for the gospel. Remember it’s also the gospel for the First Scrutiny of RCIA. The opportunity for dialogue is multivalent. With the Lord, we reflect on our sinfulness. With a seeker, we listen with the ears of Christ. The sincere seeker will be led to reflection, and when ready, her or his own moment of truth.
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is online here.