Share the Joy!

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Photo Credit: Jaclyn Lippelmann for the Catholic Standard

All summer long, as our local Church and entire community have prepared for the upcoming arrival of Pope Francis, I have been struck how this visit is not simply for Catholics, but a moment to share the joy that we have found in our Catholic faith with the whole city and region.

We know how popular Pope Francis is for the joy he exudes and for his example of love and compassion. Some may wonder at the source of his joy. You and I know that source is Jesus Christ. Our Holy Father shares this joy so freely because he has been given a mission and his mission is love – more specifically – to share the love of Jesus with the world and, in a more particular way next week, with the people of the United States.

Just as Pope Francis is charged with being the continuing example of Jesus’ mission here on earth, with bringing the Good News to all people, we also are called to bring the Good News to people we meet. All of us, Saint Paul teaches, “are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Another way Pope Francis likes to describe how we join him in being ambassadors is to call us missionary disciples. He writes “by virtue of their Baptism, all members of the People of God have become missionary disciples” (Evangelii Gaudium, 120). The Pope will depend on us to continue the mission of sharing the joy of the Gospel in the days, months and years after he departs the United States.

All across our archdiocesan social media, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other media, people have been sharing their excitement, rejoicing in the love of God in this time of grace. That joy is shared too in several videos which have been produced by our archdiocesan multimedia team and can be seen on the WashArchdiocese YouTube page. Here we see the New Evangelization in action, bringing the Gospel to people in new and exciting ways.

Over the summer, we have also been preparing in our parishes to invite all within our communities to share in our celebration of Pope Francis’ visit through invitational door hangers. More than 80,000 of our neighbors have found an invitation at their door to visit their local parish, join a bible study, or lend a hand in a service project. Through this initiative, we want to let people know that all are welcome to visit any one of our parishes.

We are also inviting any person who feels inspired by the example of the Holy Father to “Walk with Francis.” In this shared program through Catholic Charities and our parishes, we are enabling people to practice missionary discipleship through deepening their prayer life, expressing their commitment to help make God’s love and compassion more real in our local communities, or by applying the good news of the Gospel to some of the most important issues and question of our times through advocacy. Such social action may include something as simple as writing an elected official to call attention to a concern in your local community or as bold and courageous as testifying before the D.C. Council or the Maryland General Assembly.

The beauty of the #WalkwithFrancis campaign is that through it Catholics are sharing the joy they have found in Jesus with their brothers and sisters in the Lord and with people of other faiths or no faith. It is such a clear reminder of the Catholic impact in our local communities.

This is our commitment, not simply to be ambassadors while the Holy Father is here with us, but to assure him of our commitment to always and everywhere be ambassadors for Christ. We are the family of God and love is our mission.

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