The Joy of the Gospel

by Becky Eldredge

joyWorking a booth at a Catholic conference is always an interesting experience. The extraverted side of me enjoys getting to know people from around the country who are in various forms of ministry. I meet people who are proclaiming the Gospel daily in creative, life-changing ways. Many people I meet at these conferences exude joy and goodness in such a way that through their very being and living they draw people to the source of their joy. Often, at the end of the day, I am energized because of my interactions with these evangelizers.

Many people in ministry seem to glow with the “joy of the Gospel” that Pope Francis challenges us to live out as evangelizers in his recent apostolic exhortation. But I am always surprised, standing at a conference booth, at how often I run into people in ministry who look like, “someone who has just come back from a funeral” (Evangelii Gaudium, #10). Running into both types of people gives me reason to reflect on what I am bringing to others around me through my ministry and day-to-day living.

Reading Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation last week fueled this reflection further. I paused frequently, as I savored his words, to ask myself, “How am I proclaiming the joy of the Gospel on a daily basis?” I invite all of us to pause and reflect on these questions:

  1. What type of person am I? One who looks like I came back from a funeral? Or one whose life glows with fervor because I received the joy of Christ?
  2. How is God inviting me to return to the source of my joy?
  3. How am I nurturing the source of my joy, my relationship with Jesus?
  4. Am I living my day-to-day life in a way that allows the goodness of the Gospel to spread to others?

As we reflect on these questions, let us keep in mind that a sure sign that the Gospel is being proclaimed and bearing fruit is if joy is present (Evangelii Gaudium, #21). May all of our ministry be full of the joy of the Gospel that is rooted in our own personal encounters with Jesus!

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Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Dallas, Texas. She holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

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January 24, 2014

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