Let’s not be deceived that the proclamation of Christ depends on each or any of us individually. Pope John Paul II is right to disabuse us of that notion:
Proclamation, because it is made in union with the entire ecclesial community, is never a merely personal act. The missionary is present and carries out his work by virtue of a mandate he has received; even if he finds himself alone, he remains joined by invisible but profound bonds to the evangelizing activity of the whole Church.(Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 60) Sooner or later, his hearers come to recognize in him the community which sent him and which supports him.
This bond is true of any ministry. Discernment never occurs without guidance. That help doesn’t have to be hierarchical, but it does require some mutuality with other people: a spiritual director, a pastor of a community in question, or some set of interpersonal associations. As a married person, I would say that my family is also part of my service. For the proclamation of Christ, either as a traditional all-out missionary, or as some kind ecclesial minister, the support of a spouse is absolutely essential for fruitful service.
There is also an aspect of grace. Where does the missionary disciple get the inspiration? Truly, from outside of herself or himself:
Proclamation is inspired by faith, which gives rise to enthusiasm and fervor in the missionary. As already mentioned, the Acts of the Apostles uses the word parrhesia to describe this attitude, a word which means to speak frankly and with courage. This term is found also in St. Paul: “We had courage in our God to declare to you the Gospel of God in the face of great opposition” (1 Th 2:2); “Pray…also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph 6:18-20).
This is closely linked with that element of community. A spiritual director, a good pastor, a spouse, and close friends will all be able to tell if a missionary disciple is truly gifted with grace or just puts on a good show.
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