Redemptoris Missio 44bc: Preaching Christ, With The Spirit

Pope John Paul II attaches importance to preaching. Does he mean liturgical preaching? Preaching by witness and example? Using words only when necessary?

The missionary documents of Vatican II and Pope Paul VI are cited:

In the complex reality of mission, initial proclamation has a central and irreplaceable role, since it introduces man “into the mystery of the love of God, who invites him to enter into a personal relationship with himself in Christ”(Ad Gentes 13) and opens the way to conversion. Faith is born of preaching, and every ecclesial community draws its origin and life from the personal response of each believer to that preaching.(Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 15; Ad Gentes 13-14) Just as the whole economy of salvation has its center in Christ, so too all missionary activity is directed to the proclamation of his mystery.

And by mystery, we mean what is often referenced as the Paschal Mystery. Is that a mysterious concept? It shouldn’t be. It is the very heart of the liturgical year.

The subject of proclamation is Christ who was crucified, died and is risen: through him is accomplished our full and authentic liberation from evil, sin and death; through him God bestows “new life” that is divine and eternal. This is the “Good News” which changes man and his history, and which all peoples have a right to hear.

I do find myself a bit skeptical of the “right” to hear the Gospel. It’s not that I would disagree with it. But I think for churchfolk writing to churchfolk, it is more accurate to say that we have a responsibility to preach it. And by “we,” I don’t mean some vague interpretation of the Church as a plural entity. I mean every single baptized person. Our responsibility in baptism is to continue the proclamation. By our own lives and example to be examples of faith, conversion, and hope.

This proclamation is to be made within the context of the lives of the individuals and peoples who receive it. It is to be made with an attitude of love and esteem toward those who hear it, in language which is practical and adapted to the situation.

Adaptation is something that requires discernment. I have a friend who had a significant conversion experience some years ago. My friend’s problem or challenge is that every opportunity to proclaim is hampered because it is done in the way my friend was touched. Quite simply, that will rarely work. Not everybody gets Jesus with a slap upside the head, so to speak.

From Pope John Paul II’s 1986 encyclical letter on the role of the Holy Spirit:

In this proclamation the Spirit is at work and establishes a communion between the missionary and his hearers, a communion which is possible inasmuch as both enter into communion with God the Father through Christ.(Cf. Dominum et Vivificantem 42, 64)

Interpersonal communion seems a good place to pause for comment. This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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