By Sister Brenda
Walsh, Racine Dominican
In recent months, many people have been
discussing the document “The New Evangelization”, and attempting to define what
a church newly-evangelized might look like and what it will call us to. The
concept needs to be defined more clearly and then put into practice. It is not a
new concept. The early followers of Jesus were commissioned to preach the Gospel
even to the ends of the earth. Since that time, missionaries have brought the
Gospel message to distant lands and different cultures. In our time, we are
invited to reclaim that initial invitation of Jesus and bring the Good News to
our world, often marred by violence, war and a secularized society. We asked
ourselves, “What would a re-evangelized church/faith community look like?” That
may help us articulate and plan our response.
Such a church/faith community would be led
and nurtured by the Spirit. For that to happen, members would need to create a
clear path for the Spirit to work in and through them individually and
communally and motivate them to be bearers of the Good News and to be true
disciples of Jesus. Church leaders would facilitate faith sharing, times of
prayer, contemplation and scripture-study, and ways to apply them in response to
the needs of the times. Good preaching would be provided for Sunday liturgies
and other occasions. The church cannot successfully transform culture without
first transforming itself. Gandhi said: “We must be the change we want to see
happen.” Children and families need to be prepared for faith formation and
living their faith wherever they will be.
A renewed church would be dedicated to
working for justice and peace and creating a culture of non-violence in both
public and private life. Action steps are needed to pursue peace with diligence,
persistence and hope. There are many ways to address justice issues such as
racism, classism, treatment of immigrants, human trafficking, worker rights and
many more. This will take study, listening to struggling and suffering people,
to learn from them and to see what action steps are needed to restore justice
and peace. Members will work at discerning the TRUTH in a world often steeped in
falsehood and naming the truth and speaking it boldly to people in power. Start
with small groups and people of all ages and discuss ways that the truth can be
put into practice in our day, and look at the issues facing us and name what
needs to be changed in order to conform to God’s plan for our world.
To accomplish the mission, acknowledge the
gifts of all the members, male and female and people of all ages, cultures and
backgrounds. Provide adequate training for them and open a door of opportunity
for them to use their gifts to transform church and world. In order to
accomplish this, we need to listen to them, hear their concerns and what would
be helpful to enable them to fulfill their mission in church and society.
Churches are now exploring ways to meet the growing needs in parishes at a time
when there is a great shortage of priests, and many people are leaving the
church for lack of spiritual food. Others, especially youth, are seeking ways
to live their faith in meaningful ways and use their gifts to help people living
in poverty and in dire need.
Ongoing formation is needed for members of
faith communities so that they can proclaim the Gospel not only by their words,
but especially by the witness of their lives. It is the responsibility of all of
us to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Welcoming people of other cultures is also
very important.. We can learn from their ways of expressing their faith and help
them to put their faith into practice wherever they are. Let us ask ourselves
:”Do we welcome people of other cultures, treat them with respect and help them
express their hopes, dreams and use their gifts and create communities for the
good of all? Practice of civil discourse can be a tool for healing and
understanding in public and private life.
All members are invited to center their
lives in prayer and the guidance of the Spirit. Then great things can be
accomplished. All need to strengthen and share their belief that another world
is indeed possible – a world or peace and justice and non-violence, and be
prepared to continue the struggle with courage, conviction and hope. “Let there
peace on earth and let it begin with me.” No effort is too small to make a
Blessings on your preaching.