EG 119: Missionary Disciples

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, states “We are all missionary disciples.” What does he mean by that? We will explore the thought in the next three numbered sections.

119. In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization. The people of God is holy thanks to this anointing, which makes it infallible in credendo. This means that it does not err in faith, even though it may not find words to explain that faith. The Spirit guides it in truth and leads it to salvation.[Cf. Lumen Gentium 12] As part of his mysterious love for humanity, God furnishes the totality of the faithful with an instinct of faithsensus fidei – which helps them to discern what is truly of God. The presence of the Spirit gives Christians a certain connaturality with divine realities, and a wisdom which enables them to grasp those realities intuitively, even when they lack the wherewithal to give them precise expression.

This brief section might raise more questions than it intends to answer, given a church ill-used to evangelization across the breadth of the baptized.

  • Do Christians, and Catholics especially, feel this impulse to evangelization? And if not, have we caught the Spirit in its totality?
  • What do you make of the citing of infallibility as a quality of God’s People?
  • What do you make of the expression of this infallibility as an instinct? That is rather different from the accustomed form of infallibility, namely a pronouncement.
  • “Connaturality”–now there’s a fascinating term. Is this quality part of our grace-filled stature as the baptized?
  • Pope Francis is supremely confident about this. Even when the faithful lack precise expression. Even when words are lacking? How can this be?

The answer to some of these is simple, and it’s been covered in other documents on evangelization and mission: the lived witness of Christians. It’s probably about more than good behavior. I suspect that as this theme unfolds, Pope Francis will suggest we put a bit more effort into the lived witness of believers. If nothing else, we should be living not necessarily as though God’s eyes are on us, watching for a mistake. But that others are observant, judging, and discerning: are these Christians a people I would want to join?

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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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