The advancement of networks and means of human communication brings forth greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity for everyone.
If one does not go out of oneself to join others but remains self-enclosed, then they taste the bitter poison of such immanence. As a result, every selfish choice that one makes will be worse for the humanity. Mystique of Incarnation The Christian ideal of sharing a mystique of fraternal communion calls everyone to overcome suspicion, fear of losing privacy, and defensive attitudes and thus engage in the expression of faith in the incarnate of Son of God though the act of self-giving. Contrary to this fraternal communion, many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, because they want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without Cross and in the same manner they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment which can be turned on and off on their command. The Pope invites all Christians to turn to the Son of God who became flesh and who summons for the revolution of tenderness. Isolation, as a version of immanentism, finds its expression in a false autonomy which has no place for God.
It does not deny God rather rejects the transcendence and superiority of God. It engages in spiritual consumerism in terms of having a quest for spirituality based on solutions taken by the individual and his/her reasoning. Therefore, the challenge to pastoral works is not atheism but immanentism. Genuine forms of popular religiosity are incarnate since they are born of the incarnation of Christian faith in popular culture.
They entail a personal relationship but not the vague spiritual energies or powers. They also foster relationships against the attitude of escapism. In certain parts of the society, the growing attraction to “spirituality of well-being” or “theology of prosperity” is becoming a form of self-centredness detached from responsibilities. The Pope underscores an important challenge that the solution will never be found in fleeing from a personal and committed communion with God but in realising how the encounter with others even amidst sufferings with right attitude helps us find Jesus in the face of others and live a mystical fraternity bearing witness to the Gospel. Because, “The Lord’s disciples are called to live as a community which is salt of the earth and the light of the world.” (Mt 5:13-16). To achieve this mystical fraternity the Pope invites all Christians to fix their eyes on the crucified Jesus and never tire of making decision to live in fraternity. No to Spiritual WorldlinessSpiritual worldliness hides behind the appearance of piety and love for the Church.
It seeks not God’s glory but human glory and personal-wellbeing. It sees to that, everything appears as it should be. Spiritual worldliness is fuelled by two ways. One is the attraction of Gnosticism which is a set of ideas proclaiming purely subjective faith and the other is Neopelagianism which proclaims narcissistic authority and superiority to others. Spiritual worldliness in the Church keeps some people preoccupied with the liturgy, the doctrines and with the prestige of the Church.
It makes the Church as the property of a select few who are obsessed with programmes of personal wellbeing. It also makes the Church as an institution which is obsessed with business mentality but not with service to God’s people. Spiritual worldliness makes some people to be the general of the defeated army than a member of a unit which continues to fight maintaining the history of Christianity in terms of sacrifices, hopes and struggles. Instead, they give instructions from on high and lose contact with the real lives and difficulties of the people. As a result, they reject the prophecy of their brothers and sisters and they are obsessed with appearances as they should be.
This is a tremendous corruption disguised as a good. Spiritual worldliness can only be healed by breathing in the pure air of the Holy Spirit who free us from the self-centredness. No to warring among ourselvesBesides spiritual worldliness, being filled with jealousy some Christians cause violence and war with other Christians who stand in the way of their quest for power, prestige, pleasure, economic security and personal wellbeing. Some are even no longer content to live as member of a Church community but prefer exclusivity or create an inner circle. This warring is against the witness of fraternal communion by which the Christians can reconcile with those who have been wounded by historical divisions and by which they can also tolerate different forms of enmity, defamation, vendetta, jealousy and the desire to impose ideas at all cost. The Pope alarms that by warring among Christians they are no longer going to evangelize. If entering fraternal love is difficult due to anger, then the first step to love is to pray for that irritating person and that is how the act of evangelization begins.
Other Ecclesial ChallengesOn the one hand, there is a growing awareness among the laity on taking up responsibility of evangelisation in the Church. On the other hand, excessive clericalism keeps the laity away from decision-making. Moreover, the involvement of the laity does not get reflected in the greater penetration of Christian values in the social, political and economic sectors rather remains tied to the tasks within the Church. Among human beings, women possess the special concern being able to give a particular expression in motherhood towards others. Therefore, the Church needs to create opportunities for the female presence in the Church so as to allow them exercise their special concern. Besides this, the common forum, like the workplace and the social structures where important decisions are made, should promote the female presence since both men and women are equal in dignity.
In the administration of the Sacraments, the ministerial priesthood is one means employed by Jesus for the service of his people and so it is in the realm of function but not that of dignity or holiness. Therefore, this exclusive power need not be understood as domination, but as the power to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist and further should permit the possible role of women in decision-making in the mission of the Church. On the one hand, the young people often fail to find responses to their concerns, needs, problems and hurts from the adults. On the other hand, the adults find it hard to listen to young people, to appreciate their concerns and demands, and to speak to them in a language they can understand. Therefore, the efforts in the field of educating the youth do not produce the expected results. Pope Francis mentions the progress being made in bringing awareness towards the calling of the entire community including the young people to evangelise and emphasizes the need for the young people to exercise their leadership. He envisages to see the young people as street-preachers apart from their involvement in voluntary services for the common cause. Against the dearth of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, the Pope points out that the community which lives the fraternal life can awaken the desire in the youth to consecrate themselves to bring Christ to others, even if the priests are not committed or joyful.
At the same time such community needs to pray for vocations and propose the path of special consecration to the young people. Despite the scarcity of vocation, the Pope demands the need for a better process of selecting candidates for the priesthood against the motivation for the pursuit of power, human glory or economic well-being. The awareness to these challenges makes us read the signs of times by listening to the young people and the elderly. The elderly people bring with them memory and wisdom of experience which warns every Christian not to foolishly repeat the past mistakes. The young people call the present generation to the renewed hope and the future and give new directions for humanity.