A short section, but a valuable consideration: what to do when Gospel values move contrary to non-Christian considerations as we encounter them.
19. Strata of humanity which are transformed: for the Church it is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, (human) criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation.
The Church tells us evangelization isn’t only about geography and population, but also in the crucible of human ideas. I confess I don’t think about this aspect as much. I suspect it is more in the mind of Pope Benedict and his predecessor.
The “power of the Gospel” is one of persuasion and example. Some might find this thought more adversarial, but that’s not my interpretation, nor is it as much my style. (I tend to be more adversarial with believers.)
How to apply EN 19? In my current situation in a university town, I have opportunities, to be sure. I know the students have many more. Obviously, a believer must have a clear sense of his or her own criteria of judgment, personal values, thinking, and role models. But it is also possible to bring to one’s particular stratum a well-rounded approach. In thinking of role models, suppose one is a scientist. There are many scientists who were women or men of faith. Gregor Mendel, Teilhard de Chardin, and others who found the scientific and spiritual spheres working together for them. A person might not comprehend, say, Archbishop Dolan. But they might find the Jesuit astronomer Guy Consolmagno a step up the stairway they can handle.
And for us who believe, to always check out own strata: whom we admire, what catches our interest, and the like. Are we interested in science or football or quilting? Fine on any account. But how do we bring the Gospel to these efforts. And how do these efforts inform and strengthen the Gospel, or, in turn, where might they conflict.
A blocking back sacrifices personal yardage, and a physical body so that another may excel. But taking delight in trashing opposing players, or attempting to injure and demean them–that would be where a Christian would need to take a stand.
What might you be reading in this small, but powerful section?