THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL STUDY GUIDE CHAPTER 3. BY FR. JOHN BARRY
Chapter Three is a lengthy one. There will be many questions and comments here for you to peruse and so to use to go over the content of pages 77 to 121.
Pope Francis leads off saying that “there can be no true evangelization without the explicit proclamation of Jesus as Lord.” What does the phrase Jesus is Lord mean to you (or what does the Lordship of Jesus mean)? What percentage of Catholics do you guess would understand and hold to this proclamation of faith?
As the lead paragraph says–the pope wants the preaching about the primacy of Jesus Christ to be the absolute priority focus of Catholic priests and laity and religious. What would be examples of our not focusing on this, while yet being “religious” as Catholics? Or, can a Catholic be “religious” but not uphold Jesus as First in their lives and church (and homilies and prayers and songs)?
In #111, Pope Francis states that “The Church is more than an organic and hierarchical institution.” He prefers her to be seen as people on a pilgrim way toward God. What would be helpful for Catholics to have this main vision for their Faith?
In #113, Pope Francis also likes to point out how much the Church dynamic is an “interweaving of personal relationships entailed in a human community.” He says we are saved in the Lord as we learn to rely on each other, rather than trying to save one’s self. What do you think of his idea of a dynamic Church? (He says that from age to age this model has worked, with an openness to everyone to join in to Christ’ Unity.)
In #114, the pope defines what “being Church” means? What would be your own definition—based on your own good experience?
In #115, we are reminded how the Church is a “people of many faces.” Our multi-cultural expressions also are a plus, so says the pontiff looking over all of the Catholic flock worldwide. Discuss how our own parish or diocese has the experience of a melting pot faith.
In #116, discuss what (at least one of) these sentences are getting at: “The people of God is incarnate in the peoples of the earth, each of which has its own culture.” “Salvation in a people can enrich their culture.” “Salvation is not housed in any one culture.” “The Holy Spirit adorns the Church, showing her new aspects of revelation and giving her a new face.” “Cultural diversity is not a threat to Church unity.”
In #118, the theme of enculturation and respect for cultures continues in the Holy Father’s Joy of the Gospel. He says that Oceania and her bishops asked for the missionaries sent her way to “understand and present the truth of Christ as working with the traditions and cultures of their region” as to “work in harmony with indigenous Christians…for formsappropriate to their culture.” Was it a fair thing to ask? [If you know the story of the Jesuit missionary saint Francis Xavier, then share what you know of his adaptations to the East in his expeditions and how it was first received by others back home in Rome.]
In #119, the Holy Father reminds us that “the Spirit impels us to evangelize.” He says we are anointed for the task and even given an “instinct of faith” for it. How, then, are so few Catholics looking to evangelize? What might be going on? In #120, fill in the blank of his statement: “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that ________________________.”
In #122 to #125, the pope seems to be brainstorming on easy things already going on that help people to evangelize a culture: he mentions popular piety practices, customs, and pilgrimages to shrines. Can you relate those long-time Catholic ‘things’ to evangelism?
In #128-129, comment on the value of “person-to-person dialogue” for evangelization. How has it helped you or others? How is our Catholic faith an inter-personal experience? How can evangelism divert (in a good way) from a formula or fixed plan, via just good dialogue?
In #130-131, it mentions the value of charisms and its respect to diversity. What are charisms? How can God’s teaching of charims help us overcome serious issues of understanding others who are quite different from us?
In #134, he says that Catholic schools can definitely help with forming Christian community. Have you seen that first-hand (or not)? Are Catholic schools helping an emerging Church? Are they on mission?
Section 2 Homilies Preaching and a Deeper Understanding of The “Kerygma”
In #135, the pontiff jokes that we all suffer with homilies: the hearers and the preachers. Well, I suppose we do! Some listeners are disappointed and disaffected and non-touched. Some preachers are disappointed too (when they think they’ve given a good homily but no one seems to care) and they get discouraged. Yet some preachers seem to not be any good at this aspect of ministry (do they know it? do they care and want help?). Or else they go about preaching into a wrong way or approach. In #138, the pope says that long speeches or entertainment acts in the pulpit are the wrong approach to a homily. In #142, he adds that the purely moralistic or doctrinaire or biblical exegetical lectures are not good approaches to a homily either. Would you have opinions (by experience) on your hearing of such homilies? ‘Care to Comment?
What kinds of homilies move you?
In #137-138, Pope Francis says that the homily should have a Eucharistic context (as the Word leads into the Eucharist), and that its message should be in the manner of it being in a liturgy and in “the balance and rhythm of the Mass.” For the presider/clergy, he says that the preaching should be “an offering to the Father” and “a grace that Christ pours out through him (the ordained servant). Comment. Then, in #141-142, he says that the homily should have a God-confidence to it (ex: “Fear not little flock” message) and the preacher should be seeming to enjoy/believe in what he is saying—like it is from the heart. Comment.
In #144, he offers of what we should be expecting from a homily, saying ‘The Word should be on fire…while enlightened by revelation and the path of the Church and its heart.’ How do we help our preachers be “on fire” with the Word and relating it to our being on the Path of Christ as His Church?
Similarly, in #158, he quotes Pope Paul VI similar exhortation in the 1970’s that “the faithful…expect much from preaching, and will greatly benefit from it, provided that it is simple, clear, direct, well-adapted.” Has the Church’s homilies from her ordained followed this course? How does the bishop/priest/deacon have things that might interfere with their preaching (as in time to prepare, an “ear to the people” knowledge level of people’s problems, work level due to vocations crunch, etc.)?
Similarly, from #145-159, the pope exhorts the clergy to save time for homily prep and for study of The Word with proper resources. He wants clergy to use their weekly interactions as fuel for homily ideas and thoughts. He expects them to bring their messages to a warm personal and positive vibe.
The pope asks for homilies to be “positive.” Do you know the difference of a homily that focuses on negative as to one that accentuates the positive?
Do you think the average persons understand the homilist’s need for the quiet prep needed to pray and compose a homily? Do you think the same average person understands the clergy’s need for the welcoming, kind and candid social interaction he needed with his congregants so to be able to preach to them? How real and engaged are people with their clergy? How about you? Who should initiate the dialogue and interaction? If it doesn’t happen, is it a surprise that the homilist “becomes so accustomed to his own language that he thinks that everyone else naturally understands and uses it (#158)?”
In #160, Pope Francis turns to the lay person’s own development of faith (outside of Mass). He speaks of the “process of (their) growth which entails (them to take) seriously…God’s plan for his or her life.” How many Catholics do you think are right on mark with this ongoing faith development? How do you think their pastors are affected by any apathy or indifference or show of a long-time spiritual immaturity among the parish members? (Would it affect their homilies or programs to the flock? Would it affect their sense of being respected and their feeling that God is respected (“Jesus IS Lord”) amidst the parish community?
The pope uses the term “kerygma”—do you think most Catholics know what this term means? Here’s what the Catholic Encyclopedia defines it as: Kerygma comes from the Greek keryssein, to proclaim, and keryx, herald) and it refers to the initial and essential proclamation of the gospel message. The word appears eight times in the New Testament: once in Matthew (12:41), once in Luke (11:32), and six times in the letters of St. Paul (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 1:21, 2:4, 15:14; 2 Tim. 4:17; and Titus 1:3). To put it simply, the kerygma is the very heart of the gospel, the core message of the Christian faith that all believers are call to proclaim.
What is the “Way of Beauty” that Pope Francis describes in #167?
Why is compassion and sympathy for others an important hallmark for Catholics (see #169)?
What is the “true freedom” that comes from being a follower who is committed to growing in faith? #171
Where can one get training in the Word of God? (ref.#174) And, what has been our doors to open the Word in our own personal study of Scripture (#175)? What has been a good Bible study for you?