Consider the invitation to his 1.4 billion-member flock — a first in Church history — to simultaneously join him in one hour of Eucharistic Adoration last Sunday. He wanted the Church to place its focus on Jesus, the source and summit of our Faith. Jesus is the source of all we do and will accomplish.
Pope Francis is showing us the Way to our Father.
Pope Francis’ unannounced participation in Rome’s March for Life on May 12 was also momentous. He used this occasion not only to encourage the 40 thousand people gathered to persevere in their necessary efforts on behalf of life, he also extended a personal invitation to all the world to join him on June 15 and 16 as the Church reflects on Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) – a document dedicated to the ardent defense of human life.
These events speak volumes about the Holy Father’s passion and determination to keep front and center the mission of the Church and the responsibility of every disciple to fully and actively participate in evangelization. These events challenge us as disciples of the Lord Jesus to personify in our daily lives the precious gift of salvation, the joy it offers, and the necessity of defending life and its dignity in every stage and circumstance — from the moment of conception until natural death. By elevating these events to the global stage, Pope Francis stands in the midst of his brothers and sisters, reminding all of the transforming power of Jesus Christ — the Word made flesh — the Savior of the world. Furthermore, he challenges the baptized to tirelessly and courageously live the gift of faith in the midst of daily life.
Why are these events so important, so crucial to the integrity of the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel? Our Holy Father is courageously reminding us that the Church stands in solidarity with every person who suffers from temporal or spiritual impoverishment. As universal shepherd, he is telling the world that the Church’s mission to proclaim God’s generous mercy and justice must be witnessed by her faithful.
Pope Francis is showing us the Way to evangelize.
Pope Francis has consistently challenged those of us, both in the Church and outside the Church, who are indifferent to the plight of their brothers and sisters to remember our accountability towards our neighbors. His gaze and influence has also been directed to those holding authority in the temporal sphere, reminding them of their responsibility to uphold God’s commands while deciding laws that support the common good.
Some have claimed that the Holy Father is shaking the proverbial cage. I agree. We are all affected by his example. Status quo is not acceptable or permissible. Prayer and action is demanded if we are going to be leaven in society. The universal call to holiness and adherence to the full teachings of Christ and His Church are not optional or negotiable. Every aspect of human life is to be enlightened by the light of Christ.
The theme for the day celebrating Evangelium Vitae is “Believing, May They Have Life.” The Holy Father knows the remedy for healing the wounds of the culture. It begins with fidelity to Jesus and His Church, closeness to the sacraments, prayer, holiness, and virtuous living by all the baptized — clergy and laity.
Let us pray for our Holy Father and all who will gather in Rome next Saturday and Sunday. Let us pray for conversion and renewal within the Church so she may be leaven within the dough giving rise to the culture’s genuine transformation. Let us also thank the Almighty Father for the example and leadership of Pope Francis as we humbly request the intercession of Blessed John Paul II to aid the Holy Father and us in our efforts to build a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love.
This article was originally published in Spirit and Life, the e-column for Human Life International.