Does the Gospel fill you with joy? Do you have a truly personal relationship with Christ?
These and other questions form part of a short Lenten reflection from Bishop William Crean of Cloyne, Ireland (published in Zenit, March 09, 2014):
The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus (Evangelii Gaudium, 1). Does the Gospel of Christ fill you with joy? Does the expression “joy of the gospel” represent a new way of looking at your life? Does it present a vision worthy of serious consideration?
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them. (Evangelii Gaudium, 3). Have you a truly personal relationship with Christ? How can you foster a greater intimacy with Him? What are the signs of encounter with the Lord in your life?
God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy (Evangelii Gaudium, 3). Do you know divine mercy in your life? Are you truly mindful of the font of forgiveness that is the sacrament of reconciliation? Is your life a process of on-going conversion? What helps and what hinders you in on-going conversion?
Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others. (Evangelii Gaudium, 10). How do you understand the Pope’s words that life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort? “God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9:8). Can you identify the cheerful givers in your life? What motivates your giving throughout the Lenten Journey?
The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. (Evangelii Gaudium, 52). Does the Pope’s interpretation of modern living correspond with something of your own experience? How can we, in a collective way, be honest in addressing the fear and desperation which seems to overwhelm so many people? In our society, is the Pope’s call for joy in people’s hearts timely and/or necessary? Can we lift up our hearts with joy today?