The Gospel is Audacious

[A continuation in a series of reflections labeled 'Rebuild My Church']

The 'good news' of the Gospel must certainly appear audacious, if not an incredulous message to non-Christians in today's postmodern world. Even with two thousand years of reaching through human history the claim of 'rising from the dead' is always bold; beyond that, the Beatitudes sound imprudent and risky to unbelievers. Because the Gospel is pregnant with Spiritual Life, it must be presented with utmost care.

Most non-Christians don't receive the Gospel in a coherent manner; they hear it in bits and pieces. They hear it within their own frame of reference, usually with great skepticism, which often includes cynicism, sarcasm, and prejudice. And they hear it within their own psychological security zone which for most of us yields to a strong desire to be protected by the norms of our culture. For the most part we seek the majority of others to validate us; so if it's not within the family of God, with God as our Father, we will turn to other groups or associations for our image of who we are.

The evangelization of our Faith comes about mostly through the testimony of our lives well before it reaches the stage of catechesis. It comes about through genuine friendships where faith is displayed in practice in the everyday affairs we encounter. And it goes both ways: the values of friends can and will rub off on us. It's my belief that what we witness as the secularization of our (western) culture is really nothing more than the net outcome of all of these personal interactions which happen each and every day.

If this is so, then the rebirth of evangelization comes about through an intensifying of conversion experience in existing believers. This is not happening often enough. Much of the decline in Christianity is due to the 'boldness' of the Christian Gospel being 'toned down', so to speak, in order to appear more modern and enlightened. Indeed, the headiness of rapid scientific advance has created an illusion that all truth and meaning are contained in the realm of objective reality and reason. Divine Revelation is discarded as superstition, nothing is 'revealed' to man. All knowledge is discovered and evaluated: accepted or rejected based upon its utility or desirable consequences.

There are both temporal and eternal dangers here. Secularists have become overconfident and imprudent in completely shedding the counsels of wisdom from above. What is undesirable is termed 'evil' and destroyed; it could be any unwanted life (not only the unborn) or any other suffering agent. Ethical systems are subject to consensus thinking, where the majority creates 'truth: right and wrong'. One nation that condemned another for the practice of eugenics a generation ago, is now condemned in turn for the practice of cloning and splicing human and animal genes into 'hybrids'. Times change and values change quickly and easily in the secular temporal order.

The reality of mankind's relation to God is bound to reassert itself; for the roots of 'faith, hope, and love' dictate that a world without grace will always reach its lowly limits, as surely as all human edifices have in the past. Christians through their willingness to live the Gospel life fully can and will bring the boldness back to the Gospel message.

By resuscitating ancient practices such as unconditional love and forgiveness, love of enemies, compassion for the suffering, self-giving and dying to oneself, they bring spiritual light to a darkened world. In bearing their sufferings as true disciples they hold up Christ crucified as redeemer to all who suffer. By renewing their commitment to the visible Church in public worship, faithfully and in large numbers, they manifest the mystical Body of Christ. In renewing practices of prayer and penance; scripture meditation; re-dedication to the Sacraments, and personal conversion: they give themselves to the Holy Spirit as agents for change. Undoubtedly, the Spirit has already begun.


teresa_anawim2 said...

I think we as members of the Church have to keep up with the times. The Gospel must be lived (in it's true intent and purpose and with the fire of the HS) in a modern , changing environment with a wider world view.
If we do not expand our outlook and change in some ways, we will be living according to some ancient superstitions disproved by science, having nothing to do with Faith.

As for the Beatitudes sounding risky to unbelievers...THEY ARE! It takes risk for a Believer to take a stand against the Political Correctness of today's suffer the loss in the workplace for doing the right consider others first in a ME give til it hurts when the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing....and in doing this...also knowing that we are living epistles read by unbelievers as examples of Him!!!

many good points to ponder here today. many good reminders pinpointing areas in my life where I need to be more bold in living the Beatitudes 'sine cera'.
( One of my fave phrases).....According to one popular explanation, dishonest sculptors in Rome or Greece would cover flaws in their work with wax to deceive the viewer; therefore, a sculpture "without wax" would mean honesty in its perfection.(wikiped)

Anonymous said...

If we want others to be open to the Scriptures and to the graces of converstion, we absolutely have to start with ourselves. I hear so often, even from other Catholics, that God and the Church demand too much, that nobody can ever really attain to holiness. The best thing we can do is live and act in such a way as to prove them wrong! If the Saints aren't enough proof, then we living today need to do our best to become Saints as well! There is no better witness than to show that smart, modern people can also be good and faithful people.

Another thing we need to do is to pray for and try to engender greater unity among Christians. Because as it is, non-Christians and non-believers tend to see us as a bunch of self-contradicting lunatics. Who would want any part of that?

I do feel that the Spirit is working and that the tide is turning... it's hard to put my finger on, but I do feel it. I feel there are still plenty of dark times ahead, especially for the West, but overall, the picture is getting gradually brighter.

Christ our Light is with us!