Summary: We must evangelize scientists, schools and other academics. There is no conflict between faith and scientific truth.

Thursday of 14th week in course 2015

Joy of the Gospel

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This is Jesus’s distillation of the Gospel message. It is a typical Hebrew phrase. Remember that the Jews–and we–are enjoined not to abuse the name of the Lord. So observant Jews have developed the habit of not using the name of God at all, or of adding the phrase “Blessed be He” if they utter it. “Kingdom of heaven” is their way of saying “kingdom of God,” and Matthew, as a good Jewish Christian, always used that phrase.

The story of Joseph is one of the longest in the Book of Genesis. It is summarized here. Joseph, sold into slavery, eventually became the number two man in the Egyptian government. His prophetic gifts saved hundreds of thousands from starvation during a prolonged famine. So he was not vengeful against his brothers who sold him. He saw that God had written straight with crooked lines, and brought good out of evil. He saw the hand of Divine Providence in everything that had happened to him. Hopefully, those of us with a few years in our portfolio can see the hand of Providence in our lives as well. Human history is not driven by blind chance, but by divine love. Unfortunately, physical and biological science these days is of a different mind, and most have developed a purely materialistic view of the universe. To evangelize them is still our call, and the Holy Father next addresses that concern:

‘Proclaiming the Gospel message to different cultures also involves proclaiming it to professional, scientific and academic circles. This means an encounter between faith, reason and the sciences with a view to developing new approaches and arguments on the issue of credibility, a creative apologetics[109] which would encourage greater openness to the Gospel on the part of all. When certain categories of reason and the sciences are taken up into the proclamation of the message, these categories then become tools of evangelization; water is changed into wine. Whatever is taken up is not just redeemed, but becomes an instrument of the Spirit for enlightening and renewing the world.

‘It is not enough that evangelizers be concerned to reach each person, or that the Gospel be proclaimed to the cultures as a whole. A theology – and not simply a pastoral theology – which is in dialogue with other sciences and human experiences is most important for our discernment on how best to bring the Gospel message to different cultural contexts and groups.[110] The Church, in her commitment to evangelization, appreciates and encourages the charism of theologians and their scholarly efforts to advance dialogue with the world of cultures and sciences. I call on theologians to carry out this service as part of the Church’s saving mission. In doing so, however, they must always remember that the Church and theology exist to evangelize, and not be content with a desk-bound theology.

‘Universities are outstanding environments for articulating and developing this evangelizing commitment in an interdisciplinary and integrated way. Catholic schools, which always strive to join their work of education with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, are a most valuable resource for the evangelization of culture, even in those countries and cities where hostile situations challenge us to greater creativity in our search for suitable methods.’

The Pope is being kind when he says that “Catholic schools. . .always strive to join their work of education with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel.” There are a few in this country that very carefully do that, but many do not. It’s good that folks like the Cardinal Newman Society are holding Catholic universities to that high standard, and giving us publications that can inform our young folks about authentic Catholic education. There is no real conflict between the truth of science and the truth of faith. The same Creator stands behind both.

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