Another milestone in our examination of the GDC: we’ve reached Part Four, “Those to be catechized.” This part is divided into five chapters covering numbered sections 167 through 214.
The GDC gives two illustrative quotes at the commencement of its documentation, one from the second suffering servant song of Isaiah:
“I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is 49:6).
And Luke’s account of Jesus’ entry into public ministry:
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’. And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them: ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing'” (Lk 4:16-21).
The two numbered sections that follow introduce the theme of “The Kingdom is for all” (Cf. Redemptoris Missio 15; Evenagelii Nuntiandi 49-50; Catechesi Tradendae 35s; Redemptoris Missio 14; 23). After looking at catechists and content for the past several dozen sections, we get a close look at those to whom the Church speaks through its catechists. And not only catechists–these sections can inform every evangelically-minded believer who interacts with seekers, and is willing to engage them. It’s only the example of Jesus Christ, after all.
163. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus proclaimed that he had been sent to announce a joyful message (Cf. Lk 4:18) to the poor, making it plain and confirming by his life that the Kingdom of God is for all, beginning with those who are most disadvantaged. Indeed he made himself a catechist of the Kingdom of God for all categories of persons, great and small, rich and poor, healthy and sick, near and far, Jews and pagans, men and women, righteous and sinners, rulers and subjects, individuals and groups. He is available to all. He is interested in the needs of every person, body and soul. He heals and forgives, corrects and encourages, with words and deeds.
A proclamation to all. Available to all. Interested in all. This is the example of the Lord. This is his mission, his mandate to all his disciples:
Jesus concluded his earthly life by sending his disciples to do the same, to preach the Gospel to every creature on earth,(Cf. Mk 16:15) to “all nations” (Mt 28,19; Lk 24,47) “to the end of the earth”, (Acts 1,8) for all time, “to the close of the age” (Mt 28,20).
164. Throughout her two-thousand-year history, the Church, continually prompted by the Holy Spirit, has accomplished the task of paying her obligation of evangelizing “both to Greeks, and to Barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish” (Rm 1,14) with an immense variety of experience in proclamation or catechesis. In this way the characteristics of a pedagogy of the faith have been articulated in which the universal openness of catechesis and its visible incarnation in the world of those to whom it is addressed, are clearly linked.
The premise that we build on, and that the Church presumes, is that the Gospel message is proclaimed to everyone. We’ll spend the next several weeks in these GDC posts looking at the diverse audience, adults and other age groups, and the different and at-times challenging circumstances in life of those catechized. We’ll also take time to look at catechesis in the context of other religions, as well as the circumstances presented by modern culture: media, language, and more.