THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL
By: Pope Francis
In his Apostolic Exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel" issued on November 25, 2013, Pope Francis develops the theme of the proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world. This core document at the beginning of his papacy offers a road map that "point[s] out new paths for the Church's journey in years to come." It is a vast and functional text that urges the Church to free itself from anything that stands in the way of its mission of announcing the core message of the Gospel to today's humanity, just as they are.
The stated aim of the Apostolic Exhortation is "to present some guidelines which can encourage and guide the whole Church in a new phase of evangelization, one marked by enthusiasm and vitality." Francis' plans for the "missionary transformation of the Church" involve an ecclesial renewal which he states cannot be deferred. The document offers specific examples of how the whole Church is challenged by our times to engage in "a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are." The Apostolic Exhortation shows the whole Church how to be permanently characterized by "a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church's customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization of today's world rather than for her self preservation."
Pope Francis is making clear in this document that the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church stands at a critical juncture. His exhortation is simple: as Christians have done in ages past, the faithful today must live the Gospel always, everywhere, and with radicality and joy. Ringing through the pages of the document is the theme announced in the document's title: "Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the joy of evangelization!"