We discuss “A people for everyone” in Evangelii Gaudium 112-114. Pope Francis begins this theme with a reminder that God’s merciful grace is the starting point, not human action or ambition:
112. The salvation which God offers us is the work of his mercy. No human efforts, however good they may be, can enable us to merit so great a gift. God, by his sheer grace, draws us to himself and makes us one with him.[Cf. Propositio 4]
We are a community, a family, a people because of grace. We are also a sacrament in the classical definition of that term, something established by God to communicate grace:
He sends his Spirit into our hearts to make us his children, transforming us and enabling us to respond to his love by our lives. The Church is sent by Jesus Christ as the sacrament of the salvation offered by God.[Cf. Lumen Gentium, 1]
The cooperation of believers with the grace of God is necessary. God doesn’t perform on our behalf:
Through her evangelizing activity, she cooperates as an instrument of that divine grace which works unceasingly and inscrutably. Benedict XVI put it nicely at the beginning of the Synod’s reflections: “It is important always to know that the first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and only by inserting ourselves into the divine initiative, only begging for this divine initiative, shall we too be able to become – with him and in him – evangelizers”.[Meditation during the First General Congregation of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (8 October 2012)] This principle of the primacy of grace must be a beacon which constantly illuminates our reflections on evangelization.
With Pope Benedict, we have a healthy perspective on the task of evangelization and on a reflection of the topic before us. We take our place as sons and daughters, asking to be inserted into this holy undertaking. But we do not shy away from it out of any false sense of humility.