I was recently inspired by this article by the Catholic News agency on Pope Francis’ call to the faithful for a deeper encounter with others. Now, I’m not usually one to read an article I see posted on Facebook, but this one caught my eye because 1) It’s POPE FRANCIS and 2) deeper connection is kind of SPO’s bag. In his interview, Pope Francis talked about a “culture of encounter” that is needed in the Church. How true this is! In their mission of evangelization, the SPO missionaries are creating this culture of encounter through making personal connections with their peers and leading them to the ultimate personal encounter with Christ. This is at the heart of SPO mission. The apostles went out and met with those who followed Christ. Christ personally asked each disciple to follow him. Should we not do the same?
It may seem like connecting and building relationships is an impossibility in this digital age in which we live. Many think technology breaks apart human relationships, but the SPO missionaries have shown that these tools can be used to create stronger bonds. The SPO missionaries are Feacbooking, tweeting and Instagraming to reach out to their peers, and making connections with people however and wherever the opportunity presents itself. The key is to take that relationship offline once the connection has been made, and to continue to foster it in the real world.
Along with this interview, Francis also emphasized this need for connection in his own actions at World Youth Day. The Pope requested a change of transportation, opting out of the bullet-proof “Popemobile” for something that would bring him closer to the people on the street. Through these actions, the Pope is showing that he understands that the less barriers we have between each other, the easier it is to make a connection. The SPO missionaries do just this as they strive to break down those barriers of who can and should be Catholic and who can and should not. In the eyes of these missionaries, your background shapes who you will become, but is not who you are – who you are is a loved and cherished disciple of God. All are welcome, just as Jesus welcomed all.
But, you don’t have to be an SPO missionaries to be a part of this culture of encounter. The only requirement to join this revolution is that you connect, and allow yourself to be connected, with the Body of Christ.