Evangelii Nuntiandi 28: Eschatology To Pragmatic

Pope Paul VI leaps from the eschatological concerns of the end things (death, heaven, final judgment) to the ways evangelization manifests in the here and now. Is it something beyond us? Not at all. It is part of our human nature, as we were created by God. Let’s read:

28. Consequently evangelization cannot but include the prophetic proclamation of a hereafter, (humankind’s) profound and definitive calling, in both continuity and discontinuity with the present situation: beyond time and history, beyond the transient reality of this world, and beyond the things of this world, of which a hidden dimension will one day be revealed – beyond (people themselves), whose true destiny is not restricted to (our) temporal aspect but will be revealed in the future life.[Cf. 1 Jn 3:2; Rom 8:29; Phil 3: 20-21. Cf. Lumen Gentium 48-51] Evangelization therefore also includes the preaching of hope in the promises made by God in the new Covenant in Jesus Christ; the preaching of God’s love for us and of our love for God; the preaching of (filial) love for all (people) – the capacity of giving and forgiving, of self-denial, of helping one’s brother and sister – which, springing from the love of God, is the kernel of the Gospel; the preaching of the mystery of evil and of the active search for good. The preaching likewise – and this is always urgent – of the search for God Himself through prayer which is principally that of adoration and thanksgiving, but also through communion with the visible sign of the encounter with God which is the Church of Jesus Christ; and this communion in its turn is expressed by the application of those other signs of Christ living and acting in the Church which are the sacraments. To live the sacraments in this way, bringing their celebration to a true fullness, is not, as some would claim, to impede or to accept a distortion of evangelization: it is rather to complete it. For in its totality, evangelization – over and above the preaching of a message – consists in the implantation of the Church, which does not exist without the driving force which is the sacramental life culminating in the Eucharist.[Cf. Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaratio circa Catholicam Doctrinam de Ecclesia contra nonnullos errores hodiernos tuendam (24 June 1973): AAS 65 (1973), pp. 396-408]

Let’s pull out that list of what is included in evangelization:

  • love of and love for God
  • love of neighbor, including generosity, reconciliation, self-denial, and charity
  • the mystery of good and evil
  • the spiritual search for God
  • a deep expression of the sacramental life in Christ

The first two, of course, are not Christian in origin, and perhaps not exclusively Judaism. But they are explicitly endorsed by Christ.

The struggle with evil: part of living in a fallen world.

The last two lead us to the Eucharist as the “culmination” of what urges believers forward in their presentation of the evangelical method. Remember the liturgy as source and summit of the Christian life? As the aspect in which our praise is offered and which is the source of power and inspiration for the Christian life? Evangelization is connected to the Eucharist in exactly that way. It is the best earthly expression of life in Christ, and it also gives us the nourishment to continue in the evangelical effort.

Thoughts, comments?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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