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 father shares his love with both of his sons, but many things can stop us from doing the same.
Pope Francis reflects: In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few. In others, this spiritual worldliness lurks behind a fascination with social and political gain, or pride in their ability to manage practical affairs, or an obsession with programmes of self-help and self-realization. It can also translate into a concern to be seen, into a social life full of appearances, meetings, dinners and receptions. It can also lead to a business mentality, caught up with management, statistics, plans and evaluations whose principal beneficiary is not God’s people but the Church as an institution. The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ. Evangelical fervour is replaced by the empty pleasure of complacency and self-indulgence. 
Question: Is sharing the Good News of God’s mercy something we have forgotten about? Is it something important in my parish and in my life?
To ponder: The Father’s love is unconditional but Christians sometimes want to pick and choose who receives the Good News.
Pope Francis reflects: The salvation which God has wrought, and the Church joyfully proclaims, is for everyone … No one is saved by himself or herself, individually, or by his or her own efforts. … This people which God has chosen and called is the Church. Jesus did not tell the apostles to form an exclusive and elite group … To those who feel far from God and the Church, to all those who are fearful or indifferent, I would like to say this: the Lord, with great respect and love, is also calling you to be a part of his people! . Being Church means being God’s people, in accordance with the great plan of his fatherly love … It means proclaiming and bringing God’s salvation into our world, which often goes astray and needs to be encouraged, given hope and strengthened on the way. The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel. 
Question: Who needs the Good News of God’s mercy today?
To ponder: Neither the elder son or the younger understood the father’s mercy and so they were unable to share it. If we have understood then we have something to share.
Pope Francis reflects: In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41). … So what are we waiting for? 
Question: Whose job is it to share the joy of the Gospel of mercy?