A missionary Church that lives the Gospel and shares its life with the people of God: this is the direction his pontificate is moving towards, expressed clearly and prophetically in the Evangelii Gaudium. “This regards the progressive and hard-fought awareness, Piero Coda explains, “in line with the Church’s way of being present in the world, and its mission which has to be, from top to bottom, measured on Jesus’s style.”
Four years after his election, we still have not recovered from the surprise his words, style and gestures arouse in us. We find it hard to realize what is happening. With radical clarity, he evidently inspires his ministry to live the “sine glossa” – with comments and compromises.
We know that the formula is that of Francis of Assisi, which undoubtedly is why Jorge Maria Bergoglio felt God’s inspiration to take his name in this particular moment of the world’s history: to declare the spirit with which he wants to animate his service as the Bishop of Rome. He says this formula orders us not to measure the Gospel according to our own yardstick but to open our hearts and minds to the endless measures set by the Gospel.
But isn’t this what the Church of all time is called to? So what novelty is there?
To tell the truth, in every epoch conversion and reform assume a tone and pursue a path which, being the same as always, are those and only those that respond to the queries and wounds of the time we are called to live.
If the conversion we were asked of yesterday, is in a sense, the very same as that which we are called to today, and yet today, it is something else compared to yesterday under the profile of its historical expression and implementation, it is because we are called to respond to God’s voice that reminds us precisely of those words of Jesus which the Spirit wishes to highlight and make us concretise now. It will be a response to the challenges and wounds of the present.
It is a matter of a progressive and hard-fought awareness, according to which the style (that is, the content and form together) of the Church’s presence in the world and its mission have precisely been measured from top to bottom, according to the style of Jesus.
I was really deeply impressed by the words which Romana Guarneri with her distinctive sense of history, said to me in a feeble voice just before she died: “Christianity still has to blossom.” I think that this affirmation can be interpreted in the sense that the time has come, in which from the roots of faith in Christ, a fresh, innovative flower can and must bloom, and which can amaze us again with its rare beauty, and give us new life.
What in the end does 2,000 years of history mean? Has not Christianity expressed itself only in the existence and philosophy of Europe and the West? Of course, the expressions have been providential and precious, but other than definitive and absolute.
In all that Pope Francis has put in motion in the Church, the real issue at stake is huge. It may even be decisive for the Church in the unprecedented season awaiting it. Vatican II was not only a point of arrival, but more of a point of departure. None of the extraordinary heritage of Tradition has been lost, but all has to be reset in a disarmed listening to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration today. What God expects of the Church today – he said, not by chance on the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Bishops’ Synod, is enclosed in one word: synod. It is a walking together of men, women, youths, adults, and the elderly. It includes the various vocations and charisms in the Church, and different Churches, cultures religions, and visions of the world. All are involved – no one is excluded, starting from those who in some way are discarded.
The mystical sense of “we” is the perfume, truth and measure of justice of a Church that “goes forth.” It is the yeast of that new cultural paradigm of that urgently postulated and invoked epochal change we are called to be the protagonists of, under penalty of the collapse and disintegration of the human adventure.
Four years from his election we can say with simplicity, conviction and gratitude: Pope Francis is a gift for all of us, not only for the Catholics. This is because he urges us to become men and women that as the people of God, choose the morning star of the pathway, and as our existential and liberating code, nothing else but the beautiful, good, and joyful news of the Gospel. It will light up the fire – today as 2000 years ago – in the heart of the world.