In “The mysterious working of the risen Christ and his Spirit,” the section in Evangelii Gaudium on the Resurrection as the source of the “mysterious” fruitfulness of the missionary enterprise, we can hear the voice of Pope Francis very clearly. In large part, this is because aside from a few scriptural references and a solitary borrowing from a synod of bishops, this section offers no quotations from previous popes or influential theologians.
Two paragraphs, in particular, have absolutely no references or footnotes to reinforce their teaching; it is Pope Francis himself, breaking ground. These paragraphs are worth quoting in full:
“276. Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history. Values always tend to reappear under new guises, and human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power.
“277. At the same time, new difficulties are constantly surfacing: experiences of failure and the human weaknesses which bring so much pain. We all know from experience that sometimes a task does not bring the satisfaction we seek, results are few and changes are slow, and we are tempted to grow weary. Yet lowering our arms momentarily out of weariness is not the same as lowering them for good, overcome by chronic discontent and by a listlessness that parches the soul. It also happens that our hearts can tire of the struggle because in the end we are caught up in ourselves, in a careerism which thirsts for recognition, applause, rewards and status. In this case we do not lower our arms, but we no longer grasp what we seek, the resurrection is not there. In cases like these, the Gospel, the most beautiful message that this world can offer, is buried under a pile of excuses.”
Out of this pile of excuses, in the midst of darkness, something new always springs to life: How wonderful it is that the Resurrection is both reflection and fulfilment of this natural law, grace built on nature.