Pope Francis turns our gaze to a “Personal encounter with the saving love of Jesus” in Evangelii Gaudium 264-267. He begins with a classically Ignatian stance. God has loved me and saved me, so how do I respond? Many people, when in love, have the urge to tell the world. No different with Jesus. Let’s read:
264. The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known?
And if we don’t feel this love, what then?
If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts. We need to implore his grace daily, asking him to open our cold hearts and shake up our lukewarm and superficial existence.
We might encounter him anew, placing ourselves in his presence:
Standing before him with open hearts, letting him look at us, we see that gaze of love which Nathaniel glimpsed on the day when Jesus said to him: “I saw you under the fig tree” (Jn 1:48). How good it is to stand before a crucifix, or on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament, and simply to be in his presence! How much good it does us when he once more touches our lives and impels us to share his new life! What then happens is that “we speak of what we have seen and heard” (1 Jn 1:3). The best incentive for sharing the Gospel comes from contemplating it with love, lingering over its pages and reading it with the heart. If we approach it in this way, its beauty will amaze and constantly excite us.
This is the essence of the plan of salvation: to inspire believers to communicate to others, and to tame, if not replace the other human tendencies that often enough lead to destruction and death:
But if this is to come about, we need to recover a contemplative spirit which can help us to realize ever anew that we have been entrusted with a treasure which makes us more human and helps us to lead a new life. There is nothing more precious which we can give to others.
It is not just that a believer communicates a message, but that we are continually transformed in the telling of it, too. Over the next few days, we’ll explore this a bit more.