At the end of the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis beatified his predecessor, Pope Paul VI. In this week's Godtalk, Peter Knott SJ, argues that it's unfortunate the Paul VI is remembered negatively for Humanae Vitae, a document that was, in the end, prophetic.
As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us, being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice, but an encounter with a person. Pope Francis continues on this theme, particularly in Evangelii Gaudium, where he tells us that all of our evangelising efforts have to be founded on the Joy of the Gospel, on the joy of knowing the person of Jesus Christ. Peter Knott SJ explores the nature of our relationship with Christ, the relationship which should be the foundation of all our other relationships.
We can often feel quite lost, restless, and isolated. Rather than think of this as unnatural, as if there's something wrong with us, Peter Knott SJ suggests it might show us that we have a healthier spiritual life than we think.
Goodness is the fruit of the love shown by God when he created humankind; Christians don't have a monopoly of goodness. This is key to our evangelisation - our evangelisation will have a much greater chance of success if we can draw others to Christ through their admiration of the sensitivity, understanding and admiration we show for them, rather than by condemnation of the very world in which they, as individual non-Christians, lead lives of what is often sheer human goodness.
The Gospels are full of references to joy in everyday situations. However, we think of joy as something separate and special from everyday life - parties, weekends, and holidays. But joy cannot be forced - and in fact only really comes about when we actively try to create joy for others.
We can often think that chastity is a vow which curtails possible loving experience, without exploring what kinds of loving experiences can be made possible by taking a vow of celibacy. Rather than limiting our ability to love others, these states of life open up the possibility of loving other people more radically than other forms of life.
Jesus had been able to bring the best out of people, like Peter who became the first Pope, like Zacchaus who became a generous philanthropist, like a narrow minded nationalist, Saul, who became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Jesus shows us how we can try and see the best in people, when our natural tendency is to see the worst.