This workshop was presented by Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart.
Diocesan pages about him http://hobart.catholic.org.au/archbishop/biography
His blog http://bishopjulianporteous.com/
His Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bishop.porteous
(Ed. There have been far fewer postings on these social media sites since he became Archbishop of Hobart in September 2013.)
Before we formally began the workshop, Archbishop Porteous gave a short plug for his new book, 'New Evangelisation : Pastoral Strategy for the Church at the Beginning of the Third Millennium' rrp $24.95
We are here for Proclaim 2014, but what do we proclaim? What is the message we are to deliver?
Let's look at what Jesus proclaimed?
Can you summarise that in 10 words or less? Have a go now…..
So what did St John the Baptist proclaim? (10 words or less)
Repent. The Messiah is coming. I am not Him.
John asked people to respond to that message by baptism, which at that time wasn't yet a sacrament but a symbolic act of ending one way of life and starting a new different way of life. We use the English word 'repent', but the actual word in Greek is 'metanoia' . The meaning is closer to 'turn back to God', 're-orient your life', 'change your direction'. John was very insistent on making sure that the repentance was authentic, 'If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to ear must do the same.' Luke 3:11. 'No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!' Luke 3:14 John the Baptist was a powerful and effective preacher, otherwise multitudes would not have gone out to the desert wilderness to hear him preach. He kept the message simple, 'Repent, do the public washing as a sign of that repentance, then live out the change in your life.'
So what was the message of Jesus? (10 words or less)
The kingdom of God is here. Repent and believe. Matt 4:17, Mark 1:15,
All of the other messages of Jesus are out-workings of this core message.
This kingdom is not of this world. The kingdom is where God rules over the hearts and minds of those who decide to live under His rule. The Jewish people were expecting the Messiah to initiate a new Davidic kingdom, the kingdom Jesus preached was very different. The importance of the kingdom to Jesus is underlined in the Our Father where we pray 'Your kingdom come' asking that the kingdom might break into our lives right now, and in its fullness in the 'not yet'.
God's kingdom comes in us when we bring our lives under the reign of God. Jesus refers to Satan as the prince of this world. So we have a choice about whose rule we will live our lives under, and that decision is very important. Knowing that Jesus is the strong man who has tied up Satan and burgled his property helps us choose wisely. Mark 3:27, Matt 12:29.What do we have to do to enter into the kingdom? Repent and believe. Benedict XVI talked about the 'door of faith' and in John 10:9 Jesus talks about Himself as the gate. On earth the kingdom of God is imperfect, as the many parables of Jesus about the kingdom in Matt 13 teach.
So what did the early Church preach?
Was it Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again?
Was it John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not be lost but may have eternal life?'
Peter preached like this, 'God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ' Acts 2:36 and asked his listeners to respond by repenting, believing/ being baptised and then receiving the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38.
Jesus spoke of the kingdom: the Church speaks of Jesus, 'I want to tell you about Jesus.'
(Ed. We should not be at all surprised at this, for don't we expect a bridegroom to talk about his bride, and for a bride to talk about her bridegroom?)
The Church's message is that 'I want to tell you about Jesus', and 'I want to tell you that He is Lord' – a divine title, 'and that He is the Christ'- the anointed one, the messiah, and that Jesus is the way, the path, by which we enter His kingdom. How do we respond to this message? By repenting, being baptised and receiving the Holy Spirit. Doing this will release the power of the kingdom and baptism is no longer just symbolic but the entering into a whole new reality.
So what did St Paul preach? Paul goes to Philippi and writes a letter to the Philippians, Paul goes to Thessalonika and writes letters to the Thessalonians, Paul goes to Athens and there is no letter to the Athenians, then he goes to Corinth and there are letters to the Corinthians. Something went badly wrong in Athens. Paul reflects on this on his way to Corinth and makes a big decision, 'I'm going to do things differently'. This is what he said in 1 Cor 2:1-2, 'When I came to you it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had guaranteed. During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about Him as the crucified Christ'. And what happened? 'In my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit'. 1 Cor 2:4. When Paul preached only about the crucified Christ he saw the power of God work.
Paul's experiences teach us something very important. The proclamation of the kingdom cannot skirt the Cross. If it does it sells the Gospel short and without power.
So how do we preach the Gospel today, in 2014? What is our message? We need to preach the crucified Christ too. The big question is how do you build up to that message? How do you build up to speaking about the Cross and the Passion? Preaching that way on street corners doesn't work so well these days. Let's look at how the great preachers of our time, the Popes, have been doing it. After all, no one likes to hear the word 'Repent'.
St John Paul II preached this way at his inaugural homily on 22 Oct 1978
"Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept His power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To His saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows "what is in man". He alone knows it."
Benedict XVI preached this way at his first homily on 24 Apr 2005
"If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen."
Francis I preached this way at his first Mass after his election with the cardinal electors on 14 Mar 2013
"The same Peter who professed Jesus Christ, now says to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. That has nothing to do with it. I will follow you on other terms, but without the Cross. When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
My wish is that all of us, after these days of grace, will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward.
My prayer for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, will grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ crucified. Amen."
Our message can be one of invitation: Discover Jesus. Open your heart and your life to Him. Allow yourself to have a personal encounter with Him.
The invitation to personal encounter needs to be given clearly. Our task is to help others discover the treasure that is Jesus Christ.
What does kerygma mean? It means good news. For a fuller explanation visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerygma
(Ed. At the conclusion of this workshop we were a bit frustrated that there wasn't more time spent on the How we could actually preach the crucified Christ to the people of our time, ideas for introducing Him into conversations etc. Should you have any ideas on this matter, please use a comment to share them.)
The next blog-post will be about the workshop on the RCIA – ideas about welcoming new Catholics and ensuring they stay.
Some of the workshops have been made available as podcasts via www.xt3.com
To access them visit http://www.xt3.com/library/view.php?id=17454