Throughout Lent, we’ll be posting weekly reflections taken from Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) to assist us in preparing spiritually for Easter. These will be published in place of our weekly Dean’s message.
To ponder: The disciples were filled with joy during this new experience of the presence of Christ.
Pope Francis reflects: The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.  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; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. 
Question: Can I recall a time when I experienced a personal encounter with Jesus? What were the circumstances? How can I open myself to that experience every day?
To ponder: If you have the joy of Jesus in your heart, please let your face know!
Pope Francis reflects: An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the joy of Christ”. (quoting Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 1975)
Question: When have I seen the joy of the Gospel on someone’s face? What helps me to overcome feelings of dejection or discouragement?
To ponder: People are sometimes put off the Church because of the way its representatives behave. At other times, they may be drawn in by the warmth of our welcome.
Pope Francis reflects: Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”. 
Question: Do I know anyone who feels they have been hurt or rejected by the church? What would help them to feel welcome again?
To ponder: Seeing Jesus in glory helped Peter, James and John to cope with the traumatic events that would happen later. Our encounters with Jesus can give us hope too.
Pope Francis reflects: Christ, risen and glorified, is the wellspring of our hope, and he will not deprive us of the help we need to carry out the mission which he has entrusted to us. . Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history. 
Question: When have I found hope in the midst of suffering or darkness? What signs of new life can encourage people today?