Totally Unofficial Translation 1: “Evangelii Gaudium”

“Evangelii Gaudium” is the Pope’s new Exhortation, and it’s caused a fair bit of controversy. But the English translation was apparently done rather freely and sometimes is quite different from the original version in Spanish. So here’s a totally unofficial, literal translation of the Pope’s original words.

UPDATE: Places where the official version has significantly different phrasing are marked in bold.

“Evangelii Gaudium”: Apostolic Exhortation on the Annunciation of the Gospel in the Present World

1. The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and the whole lives of those who find themselves meeting with Jesus. Those who allow themselves to be saved by Him are delivered from sin, from sadness, from inner emptiness, from isolation. With Jesus Christ, joy is always born and reborn. In this Exhortation, I want to address myself to the Christian faithful, to invite them to a new phase of evangelization marked by that joy, and I want to point out roads for the march of the Church in the next few years.

I. Joy Which Renews Itself and Spreads Itself

2. The great risk of the present world, with its multiple and overwhelming opportunities for consumption, is an individualist sadness that wells up from a comfortable and greedy heart, from the sick search for superficial pleasures, from the isolated conscience. When the interior life closes itself off into its own interests — now there’s no room for everybody else; now the poor don’t come into it; now one doesn’t hear the voice of God; now one doesn’t feel the sweet joy of His love; now one’s heart doesn’t throb with His enthusiasm to do good. Believers also run this certain and permanent risk. Many fall into it, and turn themselves into resentful, whiny, lifeless beings. That is not the option of a worthy and full life; that is not God’s desire for us; that is not the life in the Spirit which wells up from the heart of Christ resurrected.

3. I invite every Christian, in whatever place and situation he finds himself, to renew right now his personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least to take the decision to allow himself to encounter Him, to try it every day without a break. There is no reason for anyone to think that this invitation isn’t for him, because “nobody remains excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.” (1) The Lord doesn’t let one down who takes a risk; and when someone takes a tiny step toward Jesus, he discovers that He already awaits his coming with open arms.

This is the moment to say to Jesus Christ, “Lord, I have allowed myself to be tricked. In a thousand ways I have fled from Your love; but here I am again to renew my covenant with You. I need You. Rescue me anew, Lord. Take me back one more time into Your redeeming arms.”

It does us so much good to return to Him when we have lost ourselves! I repeat once more: God never gets tired of forgiving; we are the ones who get tired of returning to His mercy. Back then, He invited us to forgive “seventy times seven” (Mt. 18:22). He gives us a model; He forgives us “seventy times seven.” He comes back to carry us on his shoulders, time and time again. Nobody can take from us the dignity which this infinite and unbreakable love grants us. He permits us to raise our heads and come back to the beginning, with a tenderness which never disillusions us and which always can give joy back to us. Let us not run away from Jesus’ resurrection; let us never declare ourselves dead, come what may. May nothing launch us farther forward than His life!

4. The books of the Old Testament had foretold the joy of salvation, which would return unbounded in the Messianic times. The prophet Isaiah addressed himself to the awaited Messiah, greeting him with delight: “You multiply joy, you increase rejoicing.” (Is. 9:2) And he encourages the inhabitants of Zion to receive him with songs: “Give shouts of rejoicing and of jubilation!” (Is. 12:6) To one who already has seen [the Messiah] on the horizon, the prophet invites him to turn himself into a messenger for everyone else: “Climb to a high mountain, o joyous messenger for Zion; proclaim with powerful voice, o joyous messenger for Jerusalem.” (Is. 40:9) All Creation takes part in this joy of salvation: “Give acclaim, o Heavens, and exult, o Earth! O Mountains, break forth in songs of joy! Because the Lord has consoled His people, and on His poor, He has taken pity.” (Is. 49:13)

Zachariah, seeing the day of the Lord, invites one to give cheers to the King that comes “poor and mounted on a donkey.” “Exult without pause, Zion, shout for joy, Jerusalem; for your King comes to you, just and victorious!” (Zach. 9:9)

But perhaps the most contagious invitation may be that of the prophet Zephaniah, who shows us God Himself as a luminous center of feasting and of joy, Who wants to share with His people that salvific rejoicing. It fills me with life to re-read this text: “Your God is in the midst of you; the powerful savior. He exults from enjoyment through you, He renews you with His love, and dances for you with shouts of joy.” (Zeph. 3:17)

It is the joy which lives in the midst of the little things of daily life as it answers the affectionate invitation of our Father God: “Son, according to the measure of your possibilities, treat yourself well… Do not deprive yourself of spending a good day.” (Sir. 14:11, 14) How much paternal tenderness one senses behind these words!

FOOTNOTES:

[1] PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete in Domino (9 May 1975), 22: AAS 67 (1975), 297.

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