OPEN NEW PATHS
The first Christians saw in the Baptist’s activity the prophet who definitively prepared the way to Jesus. That’s why throughout the centuries the Baptist has become a call that keeps urging us to prepare paths that let us welcome Jesus among us.
Luke summarizes his message with this cry taken from the prophet Isaiah: «Prepare the way of the Lord». How to hear that cry in today’s Church? How to open paths so that men and women of our time could meet him? How to welcome him into our communities?
The first thing is to be conscious that we need a much more living contact with his person. It’s not possible to nourish ourselves only on religious doctrine. It’s not possible to follow a Jesus who has become a sublime abstraction. We need to tune in to him in a living way, letting ourselves be attracted by his way of life, getting caught up with his passion for God and for fellow humans.
In the midst of the «spiritual desert» of modern society, we need to understand and form the Christian community as a place where Jesus’ Gospel is welcome. To live the experience of coming together as believers, lukewarm believers, casual believers, and even non-believers, around the Gospel stories of Jesus. To give him the opportunity of penetrating with his humanizing power our problems, crises, fears and hopes.
We mustn’t forget it. In the Gospels we don’t learn academic doctrine about Jesus, which is inevitably destined to grow old century by century. We learn a way of living that can be realized in all times and in all cultures: the way Jesus lives. Doctrine doesn’t touch the heart, doesn’t convert or make us fall in love. Jesus does.
The direct and immediate experience with the Gospel story helps us be born to a new faith, not through the path of «indoctrination» or of «theoretical study», but through vital contact with Jesus. He teaches us to live out our faith, not through obligation but through attraction. He helps us live the Christian life, not as a duty but as a contagion. In touch with the Gospel we recover our true identity as followers of Jesus.
Reading through the Gospels we experience that the invisible and silent presence of the Risen One puts on a human face and recovers a concrete voice. Quickly everything changes: we can go about accompanied by Someone who gives meaning, truth and hope to our existence. The secret of all evangelization consists in placing ourselves into direct and immediate contact with Jesus. Without him it’s not possible to give birth to a new faith.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf