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    What We’re Reading: The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis

    By Carol Hoffman


    Finding joy and spreading the word

    Joy_of_the_Gospel.jpgI recently read The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis with my parish prayer group at Our Lady of Grace in Parkton.


    The overall message of this book is that the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Christ.  If we accept his offer of salvation, we are set free from sin, sorrow, and loneliness.


    Pope Francis states that the Church must be a place of mercy, freely given, where everyone can feel welcome, loved and forgiven.  He says the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.  There are also many discussions related to economic justice and decision-making roles for women in the Church, which makes it thought-provoking for Catholics to read. 


    In the book, the Pope addresses the many troubles the Catholic Church is going through and tells us that the old ways of the Church do not work anymore.  He says the Church needs to embark on evangelization with great enthusiasm and vitality.  He invites everyone to be bold and creative in rethinking the goals, structures, styles, and methods of evangelization in their respective communities, and working within their own congregations and neighborhoods.


    While I believe this message about evangelization is very true, I also feel that it’s very hard for most people to go out and preach the teachings of the Church.  We not only need to be knowledgeable about our faith to evangelize, we also need to be comfortable approaching people in society on this subject.


    Yet it strikes me that the Knott Foundation’s act of giving grants to nonprofits in the Baltimore metropolitan area helps in some small way to spread the word of many worthy organizations and causes, just as the Pope would like all Catholics to spread the word of the Catholic faith.  In this way, I believe my work here at the Foundation helps me to understand the Pope’s message in new ways, because part of “evangelizing” is giving back to the community and refusing to hide from those who are less fortunate.


    Pope Francis concludes, “Like the hummingbird that keeps coming back to the sugar water feeder, we need to keep returning to The Joy of the Gospel for encouragement, knowledge, and inspiration in the practice of our faith.  It is in giving to others that it returns to you.”