Pope Francis isn’t trying to foment fear; on the contrary, he is working to catalyze consciousness. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Francis challenges us to “leave the nest that contains us” and burst the “soap bubbles” of our own self-concern. He laments the vanity of these isolating soap bubbles, the deceptive fantasy that creates the illusions of innocence and separateness. These myopic soap bubbles sew “terrible anxiety” and “take away peace” because peace — in the biblical tradition — is not the absence of conflict, but shalom: balance and wholeness in the fullness of right-relationship with God and our neighbors.
The way to right-relationship is by fostering a “culture of encounter,” as Francis contends. In one of his most extensive descriptions of what a “culture of encounter” involves, Francis contrasts the indifference of the priest and Levite with the Samaritan’s willingness to enter into the ditch and draw near the man who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the road to Jericho in Luke 10:25-37.
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