Monday, 24 November 2008

Open territory 2

The great Letter "The Church in Oceania" of John Paul II was written as inspiration for the New Evangelisation in this huge part of the world. It has certainly inspired me since I arrived in Australia. In the last post I spoke about the opening reflection, in this post I want to look at paragraphs 4 - 7 of the Letter. These parts of the Letter look at the question of how Christ should be presented in Oceania today. It is a question which first occured to St Paul after he had preached the Gospel at the Areopagus in Athens and had been laughed at, and it is the basic question of the New Evangelisation. The disciples of Christ whose lives have been changed through a relationship with Him and who, in some way, are called to witness to Him know that they must still discern how they are to present the person of Christ to others. In the past Christ was mainly presented through the institution of the Church and also through the communio of believers, but today the Church knows that she is being called to present Christ in a new way. The question: "how should we present Christ today?" is a New Evangelisation question. The Pope goes on to show how the Church can begin to discern how she should present Christ today.
First of all, the key ingredient is the Mystery of Christ himself and how the Church enters into this Mystery herself. The second ingredient lies in knowing and appreciating the people who live in this part of the world. The third ingredient is knowing and appreciating the indigenous culture of the people. I will write a separate post on this third element.
The New Evangelisation then is very conscious of beginning with people as they are, knowing them and being aware to some extent of how their lives are lived. I once asked Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR if he would describe the New Evangelisation, he answered saying, simply, "It is beginning with people where they are at!"

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