BEARERS OF THE GOSPEL
In Luke’s Gospel we find an important discourse of Jesus, one directed not to the Twelve, but to another large group of disciples whom he sends out in order to collaborate with him on his project of God’s reign. Jesus’ words constitute a kind of foundational letter that nourishes his followers’ evangelizing work. I’ll highlight some key lines.
Though we keep forgetting it, the Church is marked by Jesus’ sending. That’s why it’s dangerous to think of it as an institution founded to take care of and develop its own religion. It would be closer to Jesus’ original desire to see it as a prophetic movement that travels through history according to the logic of sending: going out of herself, thinking about others, serving the Good News of God in the world. «The Church isn’t there for herself, but for humanity» (Benedict XVI).
What’s so dangerous today is the temptation to retreat into our own interests, our past, our doctrinal acquisitions, our practices and customs. Even more dangerous if we do so by hardening our relationship with the world. What becomes of the Church if we are rigid, paralyzed, closed in on ourselves, no longer being prophets of Jesus or bearers of the Gospel?
«When you go into a village… cure the sick and say: God’s Reign is very near to you»
This is the great news: God is near to us, encouraging us to make life more human. But it’s not enough to affirm a truth to make it attractive and desirable. It’s necessary to change our way of acting: what is it that can bring people today to the Gospel? how can they catch on to God as something new and good?
Surely we lack love for the world today and we don’t know how to reach the hearts of today’s men and women. It’s not enough to preach sermons from the altar. We need to learn to listen more, welcome, heal the lives of those who suffer…only thus will we find humble and good words that come close to the Jesus whose unfathomable kindness puts us in contact with God, the Good Father of all.
«When you enter a house, say first: Peace to this house»
Jesus’ Good News gets communicated with complete respect, from a friendly and fraternal attitude, thus spreading peace. It’s wrong to try to impose it from superiority, threat or resentment. It’s anti-Gospel to treat people without love just because they don’t accept our message. But how will they accept it if they don’t feel understood by those of us who present it in Jesus’ name?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf