Thursday, March 1, 2012

Liberating the Force of the Gospel

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Eclesalia Informativo
February 29, 2012

Mark 9:2-10

The story of the "Transfiguration of Jesus" was very popular among His followers from the beginning. It's not just another episode. The scene, re-created with various symbolic resources, is grandiose. The evangelists present Jesus with a resplandescent face as He converses with Moses and Elijah.

The three disciples who have accompanied Him to the mountaintop are awestruck. They don't know what to think of all that. The mystery that envelopes Jesus is too big. Mark says they were frightened.

The scene culminates in a strange way: "A cloud formed that covered them and from the cloud came a voice, 'This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.'" Jesus' movement was born of hearing His call. His Word, gathered later in four small texts, kept engendering new followers. The Church lives by listening to His Gospel.

Today, Jesus' message finds many obstacles to reaching the men and women of our time. When they abandoned religious practice, many stopped listening to it forever. They will no longer hear about Jesus unless it's in a casual or distracted way.

Nor can those who draw near to Christian communities easily appreciate Jesus' Word. His message gets lost among other practices, customs and doctrines. It's hard to capture its decisive importance. The liberating force of His Gospel is sometimes blocked by language and commentaries that are foreign to His spirit.

Nonetheless, today as well, the one decisive thing we Christians can offer modern society is the Good News that Jesus proclaimed and His plan for a healthier and more worthy life. We can't go on holding back the humanizing strength of His Gospel.

We have to make it flow clean, alive and abundantly through our communities. So that it reaches into homes, so that those who are looking for new meaning in their lives can know it, so that those who are living without hope can hear it.

We have to learn to read the Gospel together. To familiarize ourselves with gospel stories. To come into direct and immediate contact with the Good News of Jesus. We have to spend our energy on this. The renewal that the Church needs today will begin here.

When the institutional Church is losing the power of attraction that it has had for centuries, we have to discover the attraction that Jesus, God's beloved Son, has for those who are seeking truth and life. In a few years, we will realize that everything is pushing us to put His Good News at the center of Christianity more faithfully.