03 December 2013

The Joy of the Gospel, paragraphs 11-14

A renewal of preaching can offer believers, as well as the lukewarm and the non-practising, new joy in the faith and fruitfulness in the work of evangelization (The translation makes me cry...Here's the Spanish: Un anuncio renovado ofrece a los creyentes, también a los tibios o no practicantes, una nueva alegría en la fe y una fecundidad evangelizadora. En realidad, su centro y esencia es siempre el mismo: el Dios que manifestó su amor inmenso en Cristo muerto y resucitado. Él hace a sus fieles siempre nuevos; aunque sean ancianos...A slightly more literal translation: A renewed announcement offers to the believers, also to the lukewarm or non practicing a new joy in the faith and a fecundity evangelizing. In reality, its center and essence are always the same: The God who manifests His love immense in Christ dead and risen. His make to His faithful always new, even if they are elderly...Perhaps this is true, perhaps this isn't. To the lukewarm a new announcement would hopefully re-awaken their Faith, but the sense of joy is permanent and takes time to form). The heart of its message will always be the same: the God who revealed his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ. God constantly renews his faithful whatever their age: “They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint” (Is 40:31). Christ is the “eternal Gospel” (Rev 14:6); he “is the same
5 Ibid.
6 pAul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 80: AAS 68 (1976), 75.

yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8), yet his riches and beauty are inexhaustible. He is for ever young and a constant source of newness. The Church never fails to be amazed at “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom 11:33). Saint John of the Cross says that “the thicket of God’s wisdom and knowledge is so deep and so broad that the soul, however much it has come to know of it, can always penetrate deeper within it”.7 Or as Saint Irenaeus writes: “By his coming, Christ brought with him all newness”.8 With this newness he is always able to renew our lives and our communities, and even if the Christian message has known periods of darkness and ecclesial weakness (like now?), it will never grow old. Jesus can also break through the dull categories with which we would enclose him and he constantly amazes us by his divine creativity (That is unless we refuse to cooperate with His grace, God does not impose, He proposes). Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel (the Gospel doesn't lose anything), new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression (God help us from this, let's try actually expressing something first), more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world (Liturgical minimalism will NOT help). Every form of authentic evangelization is always “new”. 

Though it is true that this mission demands great generosity on our part, it would be wrong to see it as a heroic individual undertaking, for it
  1. 7  Spiritual Canticle, 36, 10.
  2. 8  Adversus Haereses, IV, c. 34, n. 1: PG 7, pars prior, 1083:
“Omnem novitatem attulit, semetipsum afferens”.

is first and foremost the Lord’s work, surpassing anything which we can see and understand. Jesus is “the first and greatest evangelizer”.9 In every activity of evangelization, the primacy always belongs to God, who has called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by by the power of his Spirit. The real newness is the newness which God himself mysteriously brings about and inspires, provokes, guides and accompanies in a thousand ways. The life of the Church should always reveal clearly that God takes the initiative, that “he has loved us first” (1 Jn 4:19) and that He (capitalization fail again) alone “gives the growth” (1 Cor 3:7). This conviction enables us to maintain a spirit of joy in the midst of a task so demanding and challenging that it engages our entire life. God asks everything of us, yet at the same time he offers everything to us. (Allow me to place the Spanish here again: Esta convicción nos permite conservar la alegría en medio de una tarea tan exigente y desafiante que toma nuestra vida por entero. Nos pide todo, pero al mismo tiempo nos ofrece todo....Which can be translated better: This conviction permits us to retain the joy in the middle of a challenging and demanding task which takes our lives for entire. We asked all, but at the same time we offer all. ...What's being communicated here really doesn't make much sense as written, I think the Holy Father could have better said "estamos pide dar todo, pero El ofrece todo" to make his point more clear.....but of course, he didn't. This time it's an actual problem in the text which doesn't make the point clear...The idea of conviction as a literal word translation means without overcoming from the latin con-...vincere-to overcome...The question becomes what are we overcoming?...)

Nor should we see the newness of this mission as entailing a kind of displacement or for- getfulness of the living history which surrounds us and carries us forward. Memory is a dimension of our faith which we might call “deuteronomic”, not unlike the memory of Israel itself. Jesus leaves us the Eucharist as the Church’s daily remembrance of, and deeper sharing in, the event of his Passover (cf. Lk 22:19). The joy of evangelizing always arises from grateful remembrance: it is a grace which we constantly need to
9 pAul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 7: AAS 68 (1976), 9.

implore. The apostles never forgot the moment when Jesus touched their hearts: “It was about four o’clock in the afternoon” (Jn 1:39). Together with Jesus, this remembrance makes present to us “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1), some of whom, as believers, we recall with great joy: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God”(Heb13:7). Some of them were ordinary people who were close to us and introduced us to the life of faith: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice” (2 Tim 1:5). The believer is essentially “one who remembers”.  (Not quite what the Spanish says: El creyente es fundamentalmente (The believer is fundamentally...)...An aside, the greek word means to make past present....something to consider.)

Attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit who helps us together to read the signs of the times, the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops gathered from 7-28 Oc- tober 2012 to discuss the theme: The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. The Synod reaffirmed that the new evangelization is a summons addressed to all and that it is carried out in three principal settings.v(when did the old evangelization stop?) 10 

In first place, we can mention the area of ordinary pastoral ministry, which is “animated by
10 Cf.Propositio7.
the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life”.11 In this category we can also include those members of faithful who preserve a deep and sincere faith, expressing it in different ways, but seldom taking part in worship. Ordinary pastoral ministry seeks to help believers to grow spiritually so that they can respond to God’s love ever more fully in their lives.
A second area is that of “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism”,12 who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith. The Church, in her maternal concern, tries to help them experience a conversion which will re- store the joy of faith to their hearts and inspire a commitment to the Gospel.
Lastly, we cannot forget that evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of them are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. All of them have a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as
11 benedIcTXVI,HomilyatMassfortheConclusionof the Synod of Bishops (28 October 2012): AAS 104 (2102), 890.
12 Ibid. 14

people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”.13
John Paul II asked us to recognize that “there must be no lessening of the impetus to preach the Gospel” to those who are far from Christ, “because this is the first task of the Church”.14 Indeed, “today missionary activity still represents the greatest challenge for the Church”15 and“the missionary task must remain foremost”.16 What would happen if we were to take these words seriously? We would realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity. Along these lines the Latin American bish- ops stated that we “cannot passively and calmly wait in our church buildings”;17 we need to move “from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry”.18 This task continues to be a source of immense joy for the Church: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Lk 15:7). 

Enough analyzing the preview...onto chapter 1. 

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