By Renée Smith
We often hear the phrase “Go out and spread the joy of the gospel” but what does that mean as a Christian?
Fr Esteban Kross affirms understanding that joy is actually one of the “most important things when speaking and talking about God”.
Fr Kross of the Diocese of Paramaribo, Suriname is the Regional Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in the Antilles.
He gave an insight on the ‘Joy of the Gospel—Encountering Jesus and receiving the message of salvation’ to the Mission Congress participants gathered at the Centre of Excellence, Tunapuna on Friday, September 20.
His presentation referenced the 2013 apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel, which reflects on “the Church’s primary mission of evangelisation in the modern world”.
Using imagery of the cross, Fr Kross explained the joy of the gospel has to be looked at vertically and horizontally.
He said, “The joy comes vertically through the realisation of God’s compassion, by making time for prayer and God consistently. It is then we will find it in our hearts the joy of knowing we are loved by Him.”
On the other hand, the horizontal element is making ourselves into “good neighbours” by being a Church that is in communion with those who suffer, which involves reaching out to all in need while holding a passion for justice and love.
“You must go out to the peripheries and seek those who are hungry and thirsty. Welcome the stranger! Let us not be people thinking only about self,” he remarked.
Self-centeredness, he added, is the enemy which can pull us away from the gospel. “It manifests itself when people have their own ‘little kingdoms’ and maintain attitudes such as ‘If you are like me, I like you but if you are not, I don’t like you’.”
Communion with God, Fr Kross reiterated is what counteracts self-centeredness and to be in communion with Him, the Word of God is what all should seek.
Following Fr Kross’ talk, attendees broke out into workshops to reflect on his presentation and discuss practical ways in which Catholics can have an enriching and meaningful encounter with Christ through personal prayer, communal prayer, pastoral ministry and working in the secular world.
Archbishop Jason Gordon did the post-lunch presentation, ‘Called to live the Mission (Vocation)’.
Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu was the chief celebrant and homilist at a Mass to start the day’s programme.