The New Evangelization
World Mission Sunday is celebrated so that Christians can discover again and again their role in the eyes of faith and impact the world through the proclamation of the Good News.
Each of us is called to “proclaim the Good News” of Jesus Christ and the salvation He won for us to others. We need to become aware of the personal relationship we have with the person of Jesus Christ. Then, once we are aware of that, we have to share with the others the ways and reasons that relationship is important to human beings and the world.
“Evangelization” is all about personal morality, about obedience to the Gospel, and personal responsibility. It is about “repent and believe the Gospel.” But it is also about denouncing cultural, social and economic factors that undermine the family as the Synod of Bishops gathered in Rome to discuss family life declared: “In the same way, the necessity was underlined for an evangelization that denounces clearly the cultural, social and economic factors, for example, the excessive room given to market logic, that prevents an authentic family life, leading to discrimination, poverty, exclusion, and violence.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says that we are to “re-propose” the Gospel to others in the New Evangelization. This whole process begins, however, with a deepening of our own faith so that we experience a renewed confidence in the truth of the faith and then, as a result of all of this, the desire to share the faith with others.
The New Evangelization is a celebration of the transformative power of God’s grace active through the supernatural sacraments of salvation and the need to call for personal conversion and the transformation of society.
Fundamentally, the New Evangelization is a call to every believer to come to a deeper awareness of the personal relationship they are called to in the person of Jesus Christ. Secondly, flowing from this vibrant relationship with Christ, each member of the Church is to find ways to speak of the significance of this relationship with Christ to others and to the world.
The primary message of World Mission Sunday is simple – Christian faith is profoundly social. We cannot be truly called Christian unless we heed the Church’s call to serve those in need, work for justice and peace and defend the integrity of creation so that coming generations can enjoy a sustainable future.
Contemplation in world of action
Through prayer and work, Christians as contemplatives in the world of action participate in humanizing the structures of society through service organizations and media outlets, and through lobbying and advocacy, influence the decisions that shape society.
While serving one another, Christians must also be a force for establishing a more just and peaceful society. They must identify crucial issues, mobilize people, and support efforts to help build a society where there is justice, freedom and peace for all. This work of justice should permeate the liturgical and educational ministries. Looking outside itself, the community of believers joins with others engaged in working towards the same goals, to build a world of justice, peace and integrity of creation.
The long-term objectives of mission work is to foster Integral Human Development, Social Justice and a Sustainable Future. Integral Human Development is the creative tension between prayer and social work, where there is no separation between the spirit and the world so that a human being as a spirit in the world can become all that she or he can be. Social justice is where everyone in society is given his or her due. This is closely connected with peace, because where gross injustice reigns, there will be a lot of resentment and frustration which leads to violence and terrorism. A Sustainable Future is one where in preserving the integrity of creation, the needs of the present generation are filled without jeopardizing the capability of future generations to fulfill theirs.
Teilhard de Chardin’s idea of contemplation in a world of action is the translation into practical terms of what the cross symbolizes. “Christianity,” Teilhard wrote, “is pledged to the cross, dominated by the sign of the cross, by its birth and for all time. It cannot remain itself except by identifying itself even more intensely with the essence of the cross.” Christians are duty-bound to present the cross to the post-modern world in such a way that it can be seen as the answer to the human being’s deepest aspirations. While his vision was one of consuming fire, a vision cosmic in intent and kindled by the radiant powers of love, it was also a mystical vision, deeply Christian in origin and orientation.
This understanding of mission involves contemplation that bears fruit in action. It allows us to engage in action for justice, peace and environmental defense that is grounded in celebration, empowered and driven by the Holy Spirit, filled with the hope that our ultimate destiny is our communion with the dynamic life of the holy and triune God.
The future will be shaped by those who have faith in the power of their vision.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has come to write increasingly of the transformation of the earth as a Christian vocation. In Caritas in Veritate, he writes: “Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family” (par. 7). He voices trust in the graced capacity of human beings to transform the world and in so doing, make it a more fitting offering to God.
Pope Benedict reminds us that the effort to transform the world by our prayer, our labor, our learning and our ingenuity contributes to Christ’s great offering of the world to the Father in the Spirit. When we receive communion, each tiny, broken piece of the Host might give us the power as a broken people to go out into the world, anonymous, insignificant, and transform it.
Teilhard saw the whole of evolutionary history as empowered by the Risen Christ who is the source and goal of the whole emergent process of cosmic evolution. The power of the Resurrection enables the world to become more than itself. In the Incarnation, the holy and triune God is revealed at the heart of all life on earth and in the whole universe. It is in the world that we encounter the holy and triune God. It is in the world that we proclaim our encounter with God.
The cosmos is the place of the trinitarian self-communication – Father, Son and Spirit are intimately involved in the whole of creation. The whole of creation will find ultimate redemption and total liberation in Christ (Rom. 8:21). When we anticipate the coming Kingdom by working for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation, we participate in the whole evolutionary process that will culminate when God becomes all in all – Christ bringing everything back to the Father in the Spirit.
The mission of every Christian is to proclaim Jesus the Christ as Lord and Savior, as Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and to help in building the earth. In this way, we anticipate the promised wholeness of creation that is to be.