Part Two of the Aparecida Document is titled, “The Life of Jesus Christ In Missionary Disciples.” Numbered sections 101 through 346: the largest “Part” of the document is before us.
For the next 28 numbered sections, we’ll examine “The Joy of Being Missionary Disciples To Proclaim The Gospel of Jesus Christ.” with the Latin American bishops.
Is this a matter for joy? Many believers I know approach this with trepidation. I think most all of these people have the clear potential to be fruitful disciples in the mission of Jesus. Some lack the tools. Some lack the spiritual self-esteem. Some are unpracticed. And sadly, some ignore this aspect of their faith, instead focusing on how and where they are right, and other people, outside the fold and even inside it, are wrong.
Let’s look at the three-paragraph introduction and launch into this essential topic:
101. At this time, with uncertainties in our heart, we ask with Thomas: “How can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5). Jesus answers us with a provocative proposal: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). He is the true way to the Father who so loved the world that He gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life (cf. Jn 3:16). This is eternal life: “that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn 17:3). Faith in Jesus as the Son of the Father is the entry door to Life. We disciples of Jesus confess our faith with Peter’s words: “You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68); “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16).
It is good to keep in mind: this is the mission of Christ, not of us, our parish, our clergy, or even our pope. Peter’s words are good ones to echo. I also like Thomas’: “My Lord and my God.”
The Paschal Mystery:
102. Jesus is the Son of God, the Word made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), true God and true man, proof of God’s love for human beings. His life is a radical surrender of himself for all persons, definitively consummated in his death and resurrection. Because he is the Lamb of God, He is the savior. His passion, death, and resurrection make possible the overcoming of sin and new life for all humankind. In Him the Father becomes present, because whoever knows the Son knows the Father (cf. Jn 14:7).
The Scriptural references continue fast and thick:
103. We disciples of Jesus recognize that He is the first and greatest evangelizer sent by God (cf. Rom 1:3), and at the same time the Gospel of God (cf. Rom 1:3). We believe and proclaim “the good news of Jesus, Messiah, Son of God” (Mk 1:1). As children obedient to the Father’s voice, we want to listen to Jesus (cf. Lk 9:3) because He is the only Master (cf. Mt 23:8). As his disciples, we know that his words are Spirit and Life (cf. Jn 6:63, 688).
So, lots of words. Does it lead to joy?
With the joy of faith, we are missionaries to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in Him, the Good News of human dignity, life, the family, work, science, and solidarity with creation.
A few things of note …
- It is a baptismal role, not a clerical one to proclaim the Gospel message.
- The proclamation extends to all of human activity.
- Our role is not just talk, talk, talk. Or even do, do, do. Ponder the reference of Luke 9:3; it is the Lord sending out the Twelve. This is an apostolic event, and we are obliged to listen to our instructions and take part. Listening implies prayer–the part of prayer that does not involve our talking.
There’s more here, but I’ll leave it for your discussion.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.