I’ve approach the notion of a “new” evangelization with skepticism. Not because I disagree with the need for evangelization. Far from it. The limiting of evangelization to those already baptized? Really? The vapid criticism of “new” church, but not a basic element of the mission of the Gospel?
11. A renewal of preaching can offer believers, as well as the lukewarm and the non-practicing, new joy in the faith and fruitfulness in the work of evangelization. The heart of its message will always be the same: the God who revealed his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ. God constantly renews his faithful ones, whatever their age: “They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint” (Is 40:31). Christ is the “eternal Gospel” (Rev 14:6); he “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8), yet his riches and beauty are inexhaustible. He is for ever young and a constant source of newness. The Church never fails to be amazed at “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom 11:33). Saint John of the Cross says that “the thicket of God’s wisdom and knowledge is so deep and so broad that the soul, however much it has come to know of it, can always penetrate deeper within it”.[Spiritual Canticle, 36, 10] Or as Saint Irenaeus writes: “By his coming, Christ brought with him all newness”.[Adversus Haereses, IV, c. 34, n. 1: PG 7, pars prior, 1083: “Omnem novitatem attulit, semetipsum afferens”] With this freshness he is always able to renew our lives and our communities, and even if the Christian message has known periods of darkness and ecclesial weakness, it will never grow old. Jesus can also break through the dull categories with which we would enclose him and he constantly amazes us by his divine creativity. Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world. Every form of authentic evangelization is always “new”.
The freshness of the Gospel, and the newness of its presentation and our exploration is not a quality of human fickleness, but of God’s ever-changing adaptation to penetrate our dullness. In that context, new evangelization, new Church, new approaches, new life makes great sense.