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CHRISTIAN MISSION, THE NEW EVANGELIZATION AND THE POOR - Commented [1]:

DOJ'S RESPONSE: SOME REFLECTIONS AND PERSONAL BELIEFS

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,


because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” [Luke 4:18-19]

PREAMBLE: FOUR QUOTES FROM POPE FRANCIS

“If the whole Church takes up this missionary impulse, she has to go forth to everyone without exception.
But to whom should she go first? When we read the Gospel we find a clear indication: not so much
our friends and wealthy neighbours, but above all the poor and the sick, those who are usually despised
and overlooked, “those who cannot repay you” (Lk 14:14). There can be no room for doubt or for
explanations which weaken so clear a message. Today and always, “the poor are the privileged
recipients of the Gospel”,52 and the fact that it is freely preached to them is a sign of the kingdom that
Jesus came to establish. We have to state, without mincing words, that there is an inseparable bond
between our faith and the poor. May we never abandon them.” Pope Francis: Evangelii Gaudium 48
(Emphasis mine)

“For the Church, the option for the poor is primarily a theological category rather than a cultural,
sociological, political or philosophical one. God shows the poor “his first mercy”.163 This divine
preference has consequences for the faith life of all Christians, since we are called to have “this mind…
which was in Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:5). Inspired by this, the Church has made an option for the poor
which is understood as a “special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the
whole tradition of the Church bears witness”.164 This option – as Benedict XVI has taught – “is
implicit in our Christian faith in a God who became poor for us, so as to enrich us with his poverty”.165
This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us. Not only do
they share in the sensus fidei, but in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let
ourselves be evangelized by them. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving
power at work in their lives and to put them at the centre of the Church’s pilgrim way. We are called
to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to
speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through
them”Pope Francis: Evangelii Gaudium 198 (Emphasis mine)

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“Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. Here I repeat for the entire
Church what I have often said ...I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been
out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its
own security. …. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so
many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship
with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More
than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within
structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits
which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us:
“Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).” Pope Francis: Evangelii Gaudium 49

“John Paul II asked us to recognize that “there must be no lessening of the impetus to preach the Gospel”
to those who are far from Christ, “because this is the first task of the Church”.[14] Indeed,“today
missionary activity still represents the greatest challenge for the Church”[15] and “the missionary task
must remain foremost”.[16] What would happen if we were to take these words seriously? We would
realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity. Along these lines the
Latin American bishops stated that we “cannot passively and calmly wait in our church
buildings”;[17] we need to move “from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly
missionary pastoral ministry”.[18] This task continues to be a source of immense joy for the Church:
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine
righteous persons who need no repentance” (Lk 15:7).”Pope Francis: Evangelii Gaudium 15

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

Solidarity with the poor and mission to, for and with the poor can never be an optional extra for the
Church. This is perhaps more clearly true than ever in today's world which combines unprecedented
wealth with massive poverty and in which billions of people, indeed the majority of the world's population,
live in some form of material poverty. God is calling his Church not only to be a missionary Church but
also to be a Church of the Poor and a Church for the Poor.

Pope Francis very strongly stresses this truth. He declares: “solidarity with the poor is at the heart of the
Gospel, it has to be seen as an essential element of the Christian life..., it must penetrate the hearts and
minds of the faithful and be reflected in every aspect of ecclesial life” and “The poor are at the centre of
the Gospel, are at the heart of the Gospel, if we take away the poor from the Gospel we can't understand
the whole message of Jesus Christ”. He underlines the “special place of the poor in God's people”. He
seeks to challenge, encourage and inspire members of the Church to understand God's heart of love and
mercy for the poor and the Church's special option for the poor. He stresses that the New Evangelization,

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among other things, is a call to get outside our Church walls and to get our hands dirty, to put the poor at
the centre of the Church's pilgrim way, for us to have direct contact with the poor, to go to the peripheries
and to be among the poor, to be friends with the poor. This is a call, an invitation and a challenge for all
of us in the Disciples of Jesus Community.

I believe that the DOJ needs not only have a deep and genuine solidarity with the poor, but also to have a
significant mission to, for and with the poor. I also believe that the Lord would like the Disciples of Jesus
Covenant Community to be at the cutting edge of lay mission among the poor, and together with the MGL
at the cutting edge of lay-clergy collaboration in mission among the poor. I believe that the Lord would
like the DOJ, in partnership with others - especially with those in the Catholic Charismatic renewal, most
especially with the MGL and also with Christians from other Churches and communities, to develop and
practice holistic mission and ministry among the poor which is concerned not just with the "spiritual" but
with the whole person in all spheres of life: this includes concern for corporal works of mercy, social and
personal development, social entrepreneurship and social action. This should be a holistic mission in
which the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are exercised, including gifts such as healing and prophecy.
This should be a mission which seeks to help those who are poor to experience, accept and be transformed
by God's amazing love and to become and grow as missionary disciples and missionary servants. It should
include seeking to build DOJ fellowships and communities among the poor.

I would be extremely surprised if the Lord is not calling, or does not call in the future, some DOJ members
to actually live among the poor as they exercise this holistic mission. But even if this is not the case, the
Lord is most certainly calling the DOJ to make some response to the reality of poverty and to his call
through Pope Francis for us not only to go out on the streets to evangelise, but to go to the peripheries and
to put the poor at the centre of the Church's mission. That much is certain because this is a call from God
to the whole church! Individual members of the DOJ need to make a response, DOJ families need to make
a response and the DOJ needs to make a corporate response. An important question how the DOJ will
respond. How will individuals respond, how will families respond, and how will the DOJ respond
corporately? In this document I give my beliefs on what the nature of DOJ's solidarity with the poor and
mission to, with and for the poor should look like and also other some reflections relevant to this.

II – THE NATURE OF DOJ SOLIDARITY WITH THE POOR AND MISSION TO, FOR AND
WITH THE POOR – MY PERSONAL BELIEFS

The primary purpose of and motivation behind the work of the DOJ mission to, with and for the poor
should be to be a channel and instrument of God's love and to help people, whether materially poor or not,
to see, to experience, to understand, to accept, to be transformed by and to be moved to love and action by
God's Love: his amazing love which is most fully seen in and communicated through Jesus Christ.

Only a small percentage of DOJ members will focus their service mainly on mission to, with and for the
poor, an even smaller percentage will serve full time in mission to, with and for the poor, and even smaller

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percentage still will actually live among the poor. However all DOJ members are called to have a concern
for this mission and to develop a solidarity with the poor. The overall life of the DOJ should be marked
by a solidarity with the poor and a significant mission to, with and for the poor. The DOJ will especially
encourage its young members to have experiences of both “immersion” and mission among the poor.

Though fully immersed in, and deeply concerned with, the present world of sin, pain and suffering, DOJ
members working with and for the poor should always be aware that we have only a temporary sojourn as
pilgrims in this world and should always seek to point to the Kingdom to come and encourage people to
set their hearts on a world that will never end. The DOJ mission to, with and for the poor should seek to
make this world more like heaven. But even more importantly it should seek to bring about a foretaste of
the heavenly Kingdom and a deep longing for the second coming of Jesus when he will bring the fullness
of his Kingdom as he establishes the new heavens and the new earth.

Like every aspect of the DOJ life, the ministry of DOJ members to, with and for the poor should flow from
and be empowered by a life of prayer, both individual and corporate, and also from the community life of
the DOJ. One of the most important way that DOJ members can serve the poor is by being people of
fervent prayer: jubilant praise, adoring worship, passionate intercession and deep contemplation.

I think the DOJ solidarity with and mission to, for and among the poor will be, and should be, multi-
faceted. There will not be one single DOJ model and things will be different in different places. However,
as well as the qualities mentioned above, I think there should be at least six key hallmarks to the overall
DOJ mission to, for and with the poor as the DOJ seeks to live and serve in solidarity with the poor:

A. It should stress collaboration and partnership - especially with those in the Catholic Charismatic
Renewal (and most especially with the MGL), also with those from other Christian Churches and
Communities, and even with others of good will who may not be Christian. It may collaborate and
partner with individuals, groups, communities, movements, organizations and institutions.
B. It should bring rich and poor together in a way that results in mutual learning, enrichment and
evangelization. It will seek to bring DOJ members from Australia into contact with the poor not
only in Australia but in other parts of the world, especially the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua
New Guinea.
C. It should carry out evangelisation, healing, deliverance and discipleship formation among the poor,
promote the Baptism of the Holy Spirit among the poor and build and foster intentional
communities of faith and love among the poor. It should both use and foster the charismatic gifts
and expect in faith to see miracles, signs and wonders occurring through the power of the Holy
Spirit. The supporting and fostering of Christian family life among the poor will be prominent.
D. It should be holistic, that is to say it should work for full, integral human freedom and development.
It should be concerned with the whole person in all spheres of life, including the emotional,
physical, social, cultural and economic spheres. Thus it may include corporal works of mercy,
health care, education programmes, social and personal development, community organization and
development, livelihood projects, social entrepreneurship, social action and work for justice.

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E. It should give a prophetic witness, both to the Church and to the World, of God's special love for
the poor and his call for the Church to make a preferential option for the poor. It should do this not
only by charismatic holistic mission and ministry among the poor but also through:

 the lifestyle of DOJ members

 DOJ members being with the poor, having loving presence among the poor (and having some DOJ
members who actually live among the poor)

 DOJ members hospitality to the poor, whereby the poor share in the their life for example in meals,
prayer and worship, leisure and recreation

 the teaching and preaching of the DOJ


F. It should inspire, equip, form, train and facilitate people (both people who are not materially poor
and people who are themselves poor) not only to live out the preferential option for the poor but
also to carry out charismatic holistic mission and ministry among the poor.
I also think that the DOJ needs to make sure that it gives solid formation in this area: both formation
before underway commitment, after underway commitment and ongoing formation after covenant
membership.

SOME PERSONAL REFLECTIONS


God's heart is broken by the poverty in this world. The number of the poor is utterly staggering, as is the
rate of increase in their number. The majority of the world lives in some sort of material poverty. Even the
number of the absolutely poor, living on less than one US Dollar a day, is mind-blowing. The number
living on less than two US dollars a day is far greater. There are literally billions of people living in abject
poverty, in squalor, misery and destitution. Included in these billions are the urban poor, many of whom
dwell in the rapidly proliferating urban slums, squatter settlements and informal communities, especially
in the Majority World (the so called “underdeveloped countries” or “developing world”).

The urban slum areas already probably constitute not just the largest single group of the world's poor, but
the biggest single sector of society as a whole. For the first time in history we now have more people
living in urban areas than in rural areas. At least one billion of these urban dwellers, that is to say at least
one in every three urban residents in the world, live in urban slum areas. Very often these areas are
without electricity, clean water, health and medical services, and sewerage or waste disposal systems.
Formal education for the children is usually either completely lacking or greatly lacking in quantity and
quality. Overcrowding is the norm and large families often live in tiny makeshift accommodation. The
conditions are normally extremely insanitary. Rats, cockroaches and other vermin abound. Sickness and
disease are rife and many die from causes that would be easily preventable if money or other resources
were available.

God's heart bleeds for those who live in such poverty and it is for such people that Christ came to bring the

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good news. Yet most often there is no Church presence in these areas, and even when there is a Church
presence it is normally minimal. Furthermore whatever Church presence does exist among the urban poor
is usually limited to relief and development work. Such relief and development work is important, indeed
it is absolutely vital, but it is not the only work the Church should be doing. As John Paul II insists in his
letter Redemptoris Missio, it is missionary evangelization that is “the primary service which the Church
can render to every individual and to all humanity in the modern world.”

Unfortunately holistic missionary evangelization among the poor which includes relief and development
work, social action for and with the poor and oppressed, the witness of Christian life, and a clear verbal
proclamation of the gospel is often sadly lacking. There are probably billions of people in the slum areas
who have never heard the Gospel of Christ. Certainly, without any doubt, there are many hundreds of
millions of poor who have not heard a full and credible presentation of the Gospel, who have not heard the
message of eternal life, who have not heard of God's amazing, gracious and merciful love revealed in
Jesus Christ, who have not had proclaimed to them the forgiveness, healing and strengthening that Jesus
Christ freely offers, who have not heard the call to follow Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, who have
not heard Christ's call to love and holiness, who have not heard of the transformation that is possible in
Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, who, through absolutely no fault of their own, do not know
what it really means to be a Christian and to live a Christian life.

As St Thomas Aquinas said, “He who is dying of hunger must be fed rather than taught”. The Church
cannot and must not ignore the material, social and economic conditions of the poor. The Church cannot
and must not offer a “spiritual gospel” which is unconcerned with the material world. It is an absolute
scandal that such a lack of concern has sometimes seemed to be the case. This has certainly happened at
times and in places but it should never be the case any time or in any place. The Church must be
concerned with giving food to the hungry, clothes to the naked and shelter to those who have none. The
Church must be concerned with social, political, and economic issues. The Church must be concerned with
issues of justice and peace in a world full of injustice, hatred, and violence and with an ever widening gap
between the rich and the poor. The Church must be concerned with the need for structural change at local,
national and international levels. This is a vital part of living out the teachings of Jesus in the world.

Also, the Church must be concerned, in its work with the poor and its fight against poverty and injustice,
to join together with Muslims, with those from other non-Christian religions and with those who do not
believe in God. It must be concerned to do this with integrity. It must be concerned to do this with
sensitivity for the beliefs of others. It must be concerned to do this in a spirit of dialogue with humility and
respect and with an openness to learn.

But such concerns, so absolutely vital as they are, must never blur the uniqueness of Christ as the fully
Divine Son of God and as the only Savior. Such concerns, so absolutely vital as they are, must never be
substitutes for the Church seeking to lead those who do not know of Christ, or who do not believe in Him
as Lord, God and Savior, to repentance and to faith in Christ. Such concerns, so absolutely vital as they are,

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must never replace the missionary mandate to establish and build up the Church where the Church has not
yet taken root or is lacking in vitality. Such concerns, so absolutely vital as they are, must never be
substitutes for the Church seeking to verbally proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom to
the poor.

The poor have a right to hear the good news of Christ and must not be deprived of it. They have a right to
hear that news. They also have a right to hear it - and see it - presented in a way that is relevant and
intelligible to them. Yet, unfortunately, a credible verbal proclamation of the good news to the poor is
often sadly lacking. As Viv Grigg disappointedly declares concerning the urban slum areas, “the Church
has given bread to the poor and has kept the bread of life for the middle classes.” Says Pope Francis in his
recent Apostolic Exhortation “I want to say, with regret, that the worst discrimination which the poor
suffer is the lack of spiritual care” [Evangelii Gaudium 200].

Christians are called to share in the mission of Jesus to bring the Good News to the poor, indeed to BE
Good News to the Poor. The harvest is ripe, but the labourers are few. Urban slum dwellers are certainly
among the most needy part of the world’s population and sometimes they are also the most receptive to the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. The billions of poor in today's world are crying out for those who will bring the
good news of Christ to them in both word and deed. They need to see Christian disciples and servants who
continue the incarnation of Christ in the world. They need to see Christian disciples who live lives of
prayer, friendship, hospitality and service. They need to see men and women who reveal God through their
lives of love, joy, humility and compassion.

God desires to raise up an army of such people, an army of loving and joyful missionary servants,
missionary servants of God's love for the poor. God is calling some people to serve among the poor for a
season and he is calling some people to dedicate their rest of their lives to such service. God is also calling
for some people to come forward and to go and actually live among the poor. The Holy Spirit is touching
people’s hearts to form communities of disciples who will live among the poor and seek to reflect Christ
through lives of love, joy, humility and service. The Lord wishes to raise up communities of Christians
who will “incarnate” or “flesh out” the gospel among the poor rather than simply proclaiming the gospel
from without. The Lord wishes to raise up communities of people who intentionally seek not only to live
among the poor but also to share at least some of the conditions of the poor, voluntarily living lives of
simplicity or non-destitute poverty. The Lord wishes to raise up communities of disciples who will suffer
with the poor and yet who will also mirror the joy of Jesus Christ and celebrate his goodness.

The Lord is calling, but only a few people are hearing and responding. The harvest is indeed ripe but
unfortunately the labourers are few. I believe that we in the the Disciples of Jesus Community need to
consider how we might make a greater response to this call of God, to this call of God for his disciples to
love the poor, to serve the poor, to be friends with the poor, to fight poverty and injustice and even for
some to go and live among the poor. As we do this we should be mindful of the fact that, in the Gospel of
Matthew Chapter 25, Jesus reveals that at the end of time we will be judged by what we have done for,

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and been to, the poor. I believe we need to seek to grow as disciples who desire to respond to Christ's call
to continue his mission of bringing the good news to the poor and as disciples who also recognize that
Christ is already to be found among the poor and who desire to meet him in the poor. I believe that, in a
very real sense, we will receive more from the poor than we give them. In the poor we encounter, and are
transformed by, Jesus Christ himself.

I personally believe that Manila is one place where the DOJ, in partnership with the MGL, should be
seeking to develop a response to God's call to the poor. I hope that I can help in this development since
God has given me a particular calling, a strong vision and a great passion in this area. I hope I can help
DOJ, together with MGL, to move forward and eventually to become a model to the world and the Church.

I recognize that all this needs careful and prayerful discernment and that it needs wisdom. I also recognize
that I can have a tendency to go ahead of the Lord. I recognize that, if the DOJ is going to make a
corporate response, there is a need to guard against misplaced zeal which leads to an impulsive and
unreflective response and there is a need to guard against people wrongly rushing ahead on their own.
There needs to be appropriate pastoring of DOJ members who are discerning the call. However,
sometimes we can use such genuine needs as excuses for not responding or for not taking the radical steps
which God wants us to take. Sometimes we can use such genuine needs as excuses to water down the call.
The evil one is very happy when this happens and I am sure that one of his strategies is to tempt us in that
way. I pray that as we discern we will ask God for wisdom and submissiveness. But I also pray that we
will ask God for zeal, generosity, courage, a willingness to sacrifice and suffer, for the grace of faithfully
responding to his call however he wants, and for the grace of final perseverance in making radical
responses.

PAUL UWEMEDIMO MGL (Draft Version 14 OCTOBER 2017) Commented [2]:

Commented [3]: XXX