Excuse me for being interested in Evangelization, but I’m wondering what, exactly we mean by evangelization or mission in the modern Catholic Church.
I keep hearing all sorts of fuzzy talk about the need for “mission” but nobody actually says what that is. It’s like we are all supposed to know what that means, but nobody defines it. Therefore, it ends up meaning sort of whatever you want it to mean.
So “mission” is running a parish school or running the food pantry or helping the homeless and all the corporal works of mercy, and that’s all fine and dandy, but that’s not really mission is it? That’s the corporal works of mercy.
Then I hear others say that “mission” is about peace and justice and making the world a better place. Again, I’m all for making the world a better place, but is that what “mission” is? Is that the mission of the church? Is that what the apostles were all about? I don’t think so, at least not primarily.
There is another group who tell me that mission is all about just meeting people where they are and listening to “their truth” so that you can then express “your truth.” Hmmm. I guess that could be a good part of mission, but is that “mission”?
Or maybe “mission” is apologetics and ecumenism, but not really. Those are only subsets of mission.
Call me old fashioned, but I thought the mission of the church was set out quite clearly in the gospel in these words:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I realize the church is the Body of Christ and everybody has their role to play, but I wonder why we are so fuzzy about mission? I guess it is because we’re fuzzy about what we believe. We’ve adopted Fozzy Bear theology–funny, fun, entertaining, soft and cuddly, but also kind of dumb.
It is otherwise called Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism or relativism. We don’t preach the gospel to all nations because we don’t really believe anymore that it “Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.”
That bit is in the gospel too, and beneath all this Fozzy Bear theology is a deadly tendency to forget about the gospel itself and the Bible itself. These are the words of eternal life and we simply don’t take them seriously enough, and our preachers and theologians skip lightly through the Scriptures interpreting away everything they find disagreeable.
I hate that stuff.
However. I’m not calling for hellfire and brimstone rootin’ tootin’ gospel shootin’ type of preaching. I’m talking about an authentic Catholic evangelization which understands the gospels profoundly and share it with others in a dynamic, powerful and relevant way.
To be positive, I see this happening all over the place. I’m thinking of the great work done by St Paul Street Evangelization, by the FOCUS missioners in our college campuses, and by so many faithful broadcasters, bloggers, priests and preachers.
The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest will send forth workers.