Reflecting on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Rejoice and Be Glad”

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Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
October 2018

Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today

Now Is the Time to Change Our Lives

Reflecting on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Rejoice and Be Glad”

Amy Ekeh

My family recently moved into an older home in a small town in Connecticut. The house has a long history of additions and renovations, and we are still discovering all of its quirks. One such quirk is regularly experienced by anyone using the upstairs shower. Water usage downstairs dictates one’s showering experience upstairs.  A flushed toilet downstairs leads to a flash of burning hot water upstairs. A warm hand-washing downstairs results in an icy blast of cold upstairs. When I asked a contractor about the issue, he shrugged and stated the obvious: “The water takes the path of least resistance.”

As human beings, we are all too familiar with “the path of least resistance.” Why would I make the effort to go up the pipe, when I can just meander along sideways? It is this natural but ultimately fruitless way of thinking that Pope Francis seems intent upon challenging in his most recent apostolic exhortation, “Rejoice and Be Glad” (Gaudete et Exsultate). With both gentleness and urgency, he implores us to choose the harder path. In this, he is not unlike the original preacher of the Gospel, Jesus himself.

There is a simple message at the heart of the Pope’s document. It is a central message of the Gospel itself. If we can grasp it, we will have everything we could ever want. The message is this: Taking the toughest path actually makes us happiest.

Jesus communicated this message with one commanding word: Repent! (cf. Matt 4:17; Mk 1:15; Lk 5:32) To paraphrase: Change your life, right now! Jesus knew – and Pope Francis knows – that most of us spend a lot of time meandering along the path of least resistance. It seems like a harmless way to exist. But in reality, the more time we spend on that easy path, the more likely we are to live a “bland and mediocre existence” (GE 1). The Gospel calls us to so much more – to look beyond ourselves and our ingrained ways of seeing things, to deny ourselves for the sake of others, to lay down our lives for our friends, to love even our enemies.

Jesus’ ministry as described in the Gospels is a masterful display of a life lived for others, all the way to the cross. From town to town, from person to person, without luxuries or comforts, without self-indulgences like gossip and complaining, he simply lived his mission which was a “path of love” (GE 24). His gentle call to “follow me” invites us to do the same. Pope Francis urges us: “You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission” (GE 23).

The “entirety” of our lives sounds a bit overwhelming. But the “entirety of our lives” can begin today. It can begin with the next decision we make, the next conversation we have, the next occasion we find to bring healing, forgiveness, or joy to others. Each moment is an opportunity to live our mission, to follow Jesus on the “path of love,” to abandon the path of least resistance, to embrace the holiness that heals from within. This is not a mission for tomorrow. This way of life begins today.

Thankfully, this call to be authentic and fully human – this call to holiness – is not a call that we answer alone. We are in this together. “No one is saved alone,” Pope Francis reminds us (EG 6). God calls, loves and saves a people. Our God is not satisfied with mediocrity – the path of least resistance – for any of us. He wants the fullness of life that flows from choosing the narrow gate (Matt 7:13-14). He wants nothing less than the joy and gladness of his people.

Amy Ekeh is the author of the newest volume of Alive in the Word, Finding Peace: Letting Go of Stress and Worry, as well as two other volumes in this series. She is the associate editor and program developer for Little Rock Scripture Study and writes for Catholic Digest, among other periodicals. Amy is also an instructor with the Catholic Biblical School in the Archdiocese of Hartford.


We’d love to hear from you about your experience of using The Gospel According to Luke, Part One and The Gospel According to Luke, Part Two. Contact us as or 501-664-6102. What elements are most engaging to you? How have you shared the wrap-up lectures, now free online? Does your group watch the lectures together with each lesson, or do you watch them on your own after each lesson? Will you help us spread the word about these new materials?

Begin making plans now for these new editions that will be released in December: And our completely new study:

Luke, Part One Finding Peace: Letting Go of Stress and Worry is available for preorder as the newest offering in our Alive in the Word series. Writer Amy Ekeh has reflected on three passages (Luke 12:22-34; 2 Cor 4:17-18, and Col 3:12-17) that help us to examine our priorities and expectations as we also find comfort in God’s love and the knowledge that life is always God’s powerful word for us.

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