Summary: Someone good at accompanying others will not give in to frustration or fear
Thursday of 27th week in course 2015
Joy of the Gospel
“The day that God will take action.” These words of the prophet Malachi are not about just any day. They distinguish from every other day the time called “the day of the Lord.” That’s the last day, the day of General Judgement. We cannot judge others, and indeed are forbidden to do so by the clear words of Jesus. Actually, we can all think of times the words of Jesus–judge not lest ye be judged–have been thrown in our face by the wicked culture we live in. We stand in front of abortuaries and beg women not to let the stone-cold killers inside take the living child in their womb. The culture accuses us of judging the women, and their enablers, when what we are witnessing against is the action, the murder. We are pleading for the lives of children and for the spiritual lives of the mothers and the workers. Judgement of the evil of sin is different from judging the sinner. That’s God’s business. In the meantime we continue in prayer for ourselves and others–especially our enemies, the enemies of life.
The Pope continues in his emphasis that we are all to serve as companions, accompanying those we are evangelizing on the road to salvation: ‘One who accompanies others has to realize that each person’s situation before God and their life in grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without. The Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them to grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions (cf. Mt 18:15), but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability (cf. Mt 7:1; Lk 6:37). Someone good at such accompaniment does not give in to frustrations or fears. He or she invites others to let themselves be healed, to take up their mat, embrace the cross, leave all behind and go forth ever anew to proclaim the Gospel. Our personal experience of being accompanied and assisted, and of openness to those who accompany us, will teach us to be patient and compassionate with others, and to find the right way to gain their trust, their openness and their readiness to grow.
‘Genuine spiritual accompaniment always begins and flourishes in the context of service to the mission of evangelization. Paul’s relationship with Timothy and Titus provides an example of this accompaniment and formation which takes place in the midst of apostolic activity. Entrusting them with the mission of remaining in each city to “put in order what remains to be done” (Tit 1:5; cf. 1 Tim 1:3-5), Paul also gives them rules for their personal lives and their pastoral activity. This is clearly distinct from every kind of intrusive accompaniment or isolated self-realization. Missionary disciples accompany missionary disciples
‘Not only the homily has to be nourished by the word of God. All evangelization is based on that word, listened to, meditated upon, lived, celebrated and witnessed to. The sacred Scriptures are the very source of evangelization. Consequently, we need to be constantly trained in hearing the word. The Church does not evangelize unless she constantly lets herself be evangelized. It is indispensable that the word of God “be ever more fully at the heart of every ecclesial activity.” God’s word, listened to and celebrated, above all in the Eucharist, nourishes and inwardly strengthens Christians, enabling them to offer an authentic witness to the Gospel in daily life. We have long since moved beyond that old contraposition between word and sacrament. The preaching of the word, living and effective, prepares for the reception of the sacrament, and in the sacrament that word attains its maximum efficacy.
‘The study of the sacred Scriptures must be a door opened to every believer. It is essential that the revealed word radically enrich our catechesis and all our efforts to pass on the faith. Evangelization demands familiarity with God’s word, which calls for dioceses, parishes and Catholic associations to provide for a serious, ongoing study of the Bible, while encouraging its prayerful individual and communal reading. We do not blindly seek God, or wait for him to speak to us first, for “God has already spoken, and there is nothing further that we need to know, which has not been revealed to us”. Let us receive the sublime treasure of the revealed word.’
Although we are not to judge others, but rather accompany them and kindly steer them in the Way of the Word, we do have the responsibility to judge ourselves each day, and to let the Holy Spirit show us where we can improve in our actions, speech, and service. That’s the function of the daily examination of conscience, which we do just before retiring with our night prayers. The last prayer of our day, the Church recommends, is an act of contrition, along with a commendation of our soul into the hands of God, in the accompaniment of the Blessed Virgin Mary.