by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
May 16, 2012
The evangelists describe in different words the mission that Jesus entrusts to His followers. According to Matthew, they are to "make disciples" who would learn to live as He has taught them. According to Luke, they are to be "witnesses" to what they have experienced with Him. Mark sums it all up saying that they are to "proclaim the Gospel to every creature."
Anyone who approaches a Christian community today doesn't encounter the Gospel directly. What they perceive is the workings of an aging religion with serious signs of crisis. They cannot clearly identify within that religion the Good News coming from the impact Jesus made twenty centuries ago.
On the other hand, many Christians have no direct knowledge of the Gospel. All they know about Jesus and His message is what they have been able to partially reconstruct in a fragmentary manner by listening to catechists and preachers. They live their religion deprived of personal contact with the Gospel.
How will they be able to proclaim it if they don't know it in their own communities? Vatican II reminded us of something that is too often forgotten these days: "The Gospel ...is for all time the source of all life for the Church." (Lumen Gentium 20). The time has come to view and shape the Christian community as a place where welcoming the Gospel of Jesus comes first.
Nothing can regenerate the fabric in crisis of our communities like the strength of the Gospel. Only the direct and immediate experience of the Gospel can revitalize the Church. In a few years, when the crisis obliges us to focus only on what is essential, we will clearly see that nothing is more important for us Christians today than reading, listening to, and sharing the gospel stories together.
The primary thing is to believe in the regenerative force of the Gospel. The gospel stories teach us to live the faith, not through obligation but through attraction. They make us experience the Christian life not as a duty but as radiant and contagious. It's possible to introduce a new dynamic into the parishes now. Gathered in small groups, in contact with the Gospel, we will regain our true identity as followers of Jesus.
We must go back to the Gospel as a new beginning. Any program or pastoral strategy is no longer useful. In a few years, listening together to Jesus' Gospel will not be just another activity, but rather the womb from which regeneration of the Christian faith will begin, in small communities dispersed in the midst of a secular society.