Monday, December 02, 2013

The mud of the streets

In his Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis speaks clearly of the missionary vocation of all Catholics, a mission to go beyond our “comfort zones,” to go out to those who are not like us.

He also proposes what I would call a “spirituality of the missionary.”

In paragraph 45, he writes that a missionary heart
…never closes itself off, never retreats into its own security, never opts for rigidity and defensiveness. It realizes that it has to grow in its own understanding of the Gospel and in discerning the paths of the Spirit, and so it always does what good it can, even if in the process, its shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.
A missionary must accompany the poor, be in direct contact with them, listening to their joys and sorrows, being at their side and breaking bread (or tortillas) with them.

There is a beautiful story about the time when Pope Francis (then, Father Jorge Bergoglio, S.J.) was superior in a Jesuit seminary in Argentina, found in Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads” by Chris Lowney. (p. 58)
Soledad Albisú recalled in a Tablet article that Fr. Bergoglio “always insisted that the seminarians should go out at the weekends to the poor barrios to offer [religious instruction] to the children. He said that someone who is able to make the catechism simple enough for a child to understand is a wise person.” And when the seminarians returned from the barrio, he “would look to see if they had dusty feet. If they came back with clean feet, he took it as a sign that they’d done nothing.” 

Are your shoes dirty?

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