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Engaging The Revolution of Tenderness: A Pope Francis Lexicon

Resources for Understanding St. Francis and Pope Francis

Encounter

Encounter is defined by Pope Francis as an approach to humankind that creates a communal sense of misericordia.  In less technical language, encounter is a turning toward the other, with openness and a willingness to learn.  Encounter is intrinsically related to “mission.”  It is an approach to humankind that suggests familiarity and interest in one another’s well-being.  Encounter with others is related to God when we approach each relationship as something of value not only to both parties but also to the larger community. Encounter frees us from the smallness of ourselves to become larger than ourselves.  Pope Francis encourages us to understand and experience God differently by experiencing God through others and making communion a major component of mission. 

Evangelization

With the pontificate of Francis, evangelization, or the spreading of the gospel, gains a particular focus, for Pope Francis helps us see the joy involved in sharing God’s love.  Pope Francis teaches that evangelization is not a spreading of belief so much as it is showing each individual God’s love, in every day actions that we perform, by making it part of our daily concern to spread goodness.  If evangelizing means to preach the Good News of God, Pope Francis thinks we should do this; but more so, like Saint Francis, we should be the Good News of God. By loving others, we become the instrument of God. 

Mission

Mission, used alongside evangelization, encompasses all of our efforts to create “environments of living communion and participation.”  Pope Francis says we are all to be "missionary disciples," drawing people toward the love of God, helping them see that love in action, and ensuring no one need walk alone but can rely on each other as brothers and sisters.  In addition to being all the ways that we accompany one another in our mutual need, mission is the willingness and commitment to pursue real change toward the good.

 

Evangelical Discernment

Pope Francis describes evangelical discernment in Joy of the Gospel as an "ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times" in the light of the values of Jesus.  This discernment involves both a keen self-knowledge and a clear understanding of our social reality, as we continually strive to align ourselves with the values of the gospel, promoting dignity, goodness, and justice.  The process of discernment can then guide what we choose and what we reject, not just in our words but in our actions.