We began Lent with an exhortation as we had ashes placed on our heads. Repent and believe in the Gospel. The pope wrote an apostolic exhortation, the Joy of the Gospel. We want to make the effort during lent to be exhorted by the Gospel and by the Popes letter.
Today Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness. It is a place of encountering God and fasting, but it was also a place where he was tempted by the devil. Adam’s sin the first reading in disobedience is overcome by Jesus obedience. Jesus overcomes the three temptations in the dessert by choosing to worship and serve God onto the cross. Political power and kingship are incapable of redeeming the human race, offering salvation, or of granting life. Only Jesus is capable of these things. Jesus offers the joy of the Gospel to us.
In Pope Francis’ letter he writes, “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” Jesus is the Good News itself. Jesus is the Joy of the Gospel. He goes on to say, “those who accept the offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow and inner emptiness and loneliness.”
Our parish mission statement: To make and equip disciples who joyfully go and invite others to Jesus, encapsulates this letter. The Pope says that Jesus was the first evangelizer and evangelization takes place in obedience to Jesus mission. “I dream of a missionary option, that is a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the churches customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, languages and structures can be suitably challenged for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self preservation.”
The Pope has been quoted from this line many times as he tells us that turning in on ourselves for our self preservation is not the way to evangelize. He really is exhorting us here. He wants his people to move forward in making everything more mission oriented. Repent and believe in the Gospel, and embrace the mission that Jesus has given us so that we can make and equip disciples who joyfully go and invite others to Jesus.