The Apostolic Exhortation has an introduction (1-18) divided into three sections. The first is “A Joy Ever New, A Joy Which Is Shared,” and we’ll take the next seven posts to cover this section (2-8).
The times seem dark, but Pope Francis finds a joy, a quiet joy:
2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
Consumerism has always struck me as a shadow side of longing, of wanting, and of looking to oneself and one’s resources to fulfill this emptiness.
Pope Francis perceives consumerism in believers. Does this always lead to resentment, anger and listlessness? When I see those qualities in myself, are they symptoms of not looking to God for fulfillment?
Where do we find such fulfillment, the joy presented to us? My sense is some experience of God, as well as a healthy interaction with others in the ways of Christ. This is part of the distinction between a believer–a person who professes faith in Christ, but no more–and a disciple–one who not only believes but actively imitates the Lord.