Summary: Nothing is right until we meet and allow ourselves to be transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday of the 24th Week in Course 2016

Joy of the Gospel

Most of us have forgotten the scariest moment of our lives. It was about the age of two. Up to then everybody was so attentive to the little one’s needs that each of us, to the extent that we were thinking at all, had a fundamental awareness that the world revolved around–me! But about the age of two the baby awoke, probably in the dark, middle of the night, and realized that the baby was alone. The baby couldn’t articulate the idea, but the idea is that everything is vanity, that the darkness is real, that mommy might not come whenever needed. And the baby screamed.

Then daddy or mommy told the first big lie, right after checking the diaper: calm down, baby, everything is all right. Everything will be all right. And the rest of our lives we have been trying to cope with the understanding that not everything is right. Just like Qoheleth, just like poor Herod, who thought that his domestic life would be all right if he just cut off John’s head.

You see, nothing is right until we meet and allow ourselves to be transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ. He answers the fundamental angst that we first felt at the age of two. Only in Him can everything–even amid inconvenience, illness, persecution, even death–be all right.

The Holy Father, in the encyclical, tells us how important it is to proclaim that basic truth: ‘In catechesis too, we have rediscovered the fundamental role of the first announcement or kerygma, which needs to be the centre of all evangelizing activity and all efforts at Church renewal. The kerygma is trinitarian. The fire of the Spirit is given in the form of tongues and leads us to believe in Jesus Christ who, by his death and resurrection, reveals and communicates to us the Father’s infinite mercy. On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” This first proclamation is called “first” not because it exists at the beginning and can then be forgotten or replaced by other more important things. It is first in a qualitative sense because it is the principal proclamation, the one which we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment.[126] For this reason too, “the priest – like every other member of the Church – ought to grow in awareness that he himself is continually in need of being evangelized”.[127]

‘We must not think that in catechesis the kerygma gives way to a supposedly more “solid” formation. Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation. All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma, which is reflected in and constantly illumines, the work of catechesis, thereby enabling us to understand more fully the significance of every subject which the latter treats. It is the message capable of responding to the desire for the infinite which abides in every human heart. The centrality of the kerygma calls for stressing those elements which are most needed today: it has to express God’s saving love which precedes any moral and religious obligation on our part; it should not impose the truth but appeal to freedom; it should be marked by joy, encouragement, liveliness and a harmonious balance which will not reduce preaching to a few doctrines which are at times more philosophical than evangelical. All this demands on the part of the evangelizer certain attitudes which foster openness to the message: approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome which is non-judgmental.’

Herod finally got to meet Jesus, and what a disappointment that meeting was. Herod wanted peace of heart, but on his own terms. He wanted Jesus to perform some miracle, but the only miracle Jesus would perform, Herod refused to cooperate with. What Herod needed was a new heart and a new spirit. So on that first Good Friday, he sent Jesus back to Pilate to be further tortured and murdered. He could have had it all, but he refused it.

But let’s not think the Passover eve session with Pilate was some kind of vanity, some kind of waste of time. There were dozens of attendants there with Herod. Some eventually turned to Christ and the Church and became Christians. After all, how otherwise did St. Luke learn the stories of Herod’s family life that he relates in the Gospel and Acts? The Word of God is never spoken in vain. Let’s pray always to be aware of the moments we can share the Joy of the Gospel.

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