Bishop's Blog / World Youth Day and Pope Francis' First Encyclical

By Joseph Strickland
Monday, July 29, 2013

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Pope Francis has had a tremendous impact on the youth at World Youth Day in Brazil and on the whole world.  As I reflect on some of his statements and encounters in Rio his encyclical Lumen Fidei, “The Light of Faith” is brought to mind.

Pope Francis quotes Saint Justin Martyr saying that, “No one has ever been ready to die for his faith in the sun”.  Pope Francis is referring to the age old tendency for the human person to turn to idolatry in our quest for faith.  Saint Justin’s play on words refers to the prevalent worship of the sun god in the culture which first encountered Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Although today worship of a sun god has been marginalized to the fringes of our culture we are challenged by the words of Pope Francis to be aware of our tendencies toward idolatry even today.  We may not be urged to worship the sun in any literal sense but we are urged to worship the idols of wealth, pleasure, power and excess.

Let us take Saint Justin’s words to heart and reflect on the ways we are called to die to self because of our faith in the Son of God.  Let us pray that the youth who have been greatly touched by Pope Francis as he proclaims Jesus Christ may joyfully embrace devotion to the Son of God and His Light that guides their daily lives.

Joseph Strickland

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland was named the fourth bishop of Tyler in September of 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to being named bishop, he served a number of roles in the diocese, including vicar general, judicial vicar, and pastor of the Cathedral parish. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1985.
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