Monday, 30 May 2011

More thoughts on the New Evangelisation

The relationship between the Church and the world is somewhat misunderstood today. Both have a life and a mission, but the Church's life and mission are for the world. Whereas presently, the world does not value in the Church. This disparity lies at the heart of the New Evangelisation as a challenge.

I say that the Church's life and mission is for the world; the Church calls both us and the world to transformation in Christ. The New Evangelisation then, does not seek to promote the power or the prestige of the Church as an Institution, but seeks to make room in the world, and in the Church, for He who is Life. For the Church, transformation in Christ is the clear project for all humanity to embrace; the world however, does not see this clearly, even though transformation in Christ is its way forward. Thus, the Church today finds herself called to a new evangelisation. That which brings the Church and the world together is transformation in Christ. It is Christ alone who brings about an ecology of relationship between the Church and the world. The proclamation of Christ by the Church causes an effect in both the Church and the world.

Christ and the Church are bound so closely that they cannot be separated. Indeed, the New Evangelisation rounds upon the saying of St John the Baptist: "I must decrease, He must increase." Human issues, whether inside or outside the Church, revolve around one single issue, which is man's relationship with the one person who is necessary to him: God. Here the Church is called to help men and women (both the baptised and the non-baptised) to discover and express their issues in the light of this overriding truth. For human issues - whatever they are - are the hinge upon which the necessity of transformation in Christ can be proclaimed. Any human state of affairs is an opportunity for the Gospel to come to life. The primary way that Catholics do this is in showing by our lives that Christ is the answer. In other words, it is all about Christ and, who today, will be bothered about telling the world about Christ!

The fact is that all issues (unemployment, sexual orientation, climate chaos etc) can all be expressed in the context of our deepest aspiration: to be united with God. Issues, in a sense, condition the way in which the Gospel is proclaimed; that is, if people are involved in a particular activity and lack Christ, how can Christ be proclaimed in that context? It must be seen by Catholics then, that the New Evangelisation contains no element of judging, still less of condeming, but is wholly a mission of pastoring towards and in Christ.

Having said this, it seems to me that there are some fundamental questions for Catholics to reflect upon and embrace, and upon which, in some way, the New Evangelisation itself depends (since, in fact, the New Evangelisation depends upon me):

1. What does it mean to be at the heart of the Church; that place from which my life and my mission spring?

2. What does it mean to hear the Gospel, especially for those who have never heard it or live lives far from Christ?

3.What does transformation in Christ mean?

4.What does it mean to discover one's life within the Church and to participate in the mission of the Church?

5. What does it mean to contribute to the proclamation of the Gospel with my life?

6. What does it mean to learn from Christ?

7. When do I speak about Christ and what He has done, and what He has done for me?

8. How has Christ changed me and how is He calling me to change?

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