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A Matter Of Style  
  Posted On : 21 Sep 2016   Posted by Fr. Fr. Daniel Christian  



A matter of style Friday, 9 September 2016

(by L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n. 37, 16 September 2016)

Evangelization is carried out first through witness and then with words, being careful to avoid falling into the temptation of reducing ourselves to officials who stroll around and proselytize. In his homily during the Mass at Santa Marta on Friday morning, Pope Francis relaunched St Paul’s “style” of evangelization, his “becoming all things to all men” without seeking personal merit. The Pope also referred to the example of St Peter Claver, a Jesuit missionary who worked among slaves.

“The apostle Paul explains to the Corinthians what it means to evangelize”, the Pope affirmed, referring to the first reading in the day’s liturgy (1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-27). “We too can reflect today upon what it means to evangelize”, he said, “because we Christians are called to evangelize, to convey the Gospel, which means bearing witness to Jesus Christ”.

And Paul, addressing the Christians of Corinth, begins his reasoning by pointing out what evangelization does not consist of: “To me, proclaiming the Gospel is not boasting”. Therefore, you should certainly not boast “of going to evangelize: I am going to do this, I am going to do that”,


as if evangelizing was like “taking a stroll”. This would be “reducing evangelization to a task: I have this task”. And “I am speaking about things that happen in parishes around the world”, the Pope said, “when a parish priest always has his door closed”.

It can also happen, Pope Francis continued, that you meet “lay people who say: ‘I teach this catechism class, I do this, this and this...”. In doing so, they reduce “what they call evangelization to a task”. Perhaps they even boast, saying: “I perform this task, I am a catechist official, I am an official of this, of this or that”.

This is precisely the attitude of those who boast, the Pope insisted, and “it is reducing the Gospel to a task or even a source of pride: ‘I go and evangelize and I have brought many people to Church’”. In this way, he said, “even proselytizing is boasting”. However, “evangelization is not proselytism”. It is more: evangelization is never “taking a stroll; reducing the Gospel to a task; proselytizing”.

St Paul emphatically repeats what evangelization means, the Pope explained: preaching the Gospel “is not boasting. It is a necessity imposed upon me”. Indeed, the Pope said, referring to an expression of Paul, “a Christian is obligated, but with this force, as a necessity, to convey the name of Jesus, but from one’s own heart”. Repeating the Apostle’s clear words, the Pontiff said: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”.

A reprimand — “Woe to you!” — that reaches those Catholics who think: “I go to Mass, I do this and then nothing more”. However, Pope Francis cautioned, “if you say that you are Catholic, that you have been baptized, that you have been confirmed, you must go further, to convey the name of Jesus: this is an obligation!”.

Paul’s precise indications, the Pope continued, lead us to question what our “style of evangelization” should be. In short, “how can I be sure that I am not taking a stroll, that I am neither proselytizing nor reducing evangelization to a task? How can I understand what the right style is?”.

The answer Paul always gives is: “The style is to be all things to everyone”. In fact, the Apostle writes: “I have become all things to all men”. In essence it means “to go and share the lives of others, to accompany them on the journey of faith, to help them grow on the journey of faith”.

In practice, Pope Francis explained, it means conducting yourself as if “you are accompanying a child, for example: when we want a child to learn how to speak, the parents do not merely say: ‘Speak, read this and speak!’” . Rather, they first teach the child how to say “Mommy and Daddy”. In doing so, the Pope continued, they “become like children so that the child may grow”.

Therefore, the Pope stressed again, “we must do the same with our brother: to go to the situation


he is in and if he is sick, to draw near, not to bombard him with arguments; to be near, to assist him, to help him”. Therefore, to answer the question about the style one should use to proclaim the Gospel, Pope Francis replied that evangelization is done precisely “with this attitude of mercy: to be all things to all men”, with the certainty that “it is the testimony that brings forth the Word”.

From this perspective, the Pope also wanted to share a personal confidence: “When I was in Poland, in Krakow, I was having lunch with young people at World Youth Day, and a young man asked me: “Father, what should I say to a friend who is good — he is so good! — but who is an atheist, he does not believe: what should I say to him so that he will believe?”. This, Pope Francis continued, “is a good question, as we all know people who are separated from the Church: what should we tell them?”. On that occasion, he recalled, his answer to the young man’s question was: “Look, the last thing you need to do is to say something! Begin to act and he will see what you are doing and ask you; and when he asks you, you tell him”.

In short, the Pope affirmed, “to evangelize is to give this testimony: I live this way, because I believe in Jesus Christ; I awaken within you the curiosity to ask, ‘why do you do these things?’”. And the Christian response should be: “Because I believe in Jesus Christ and I preach Jesus Christ and not only with the Word — you must proclaim Him with the Word — but above all with your life”. Therefore becoming all things to everyone, evangelizing “where you are, in the state of mind you are in, and the state of growth you have reached”.

This is what it means “to evangelize and this is also done freely”, the Pope explained. Paul writes: “What then is my reward? Proclaiming the Gospel freely. Why freely? Because we have freely received the Gospel. Grace, salvation, can neither be bought nor sold”. Grace is free! “And freely we must give it”. We see “this gratuity, this testimony of proclaiming Jesus Christ”, the Pope said, “in many men, women, religious, consecrated persons, priests and bishops, who become all things to everyone, freely”.

This gratuity is found throughout the history of the Church. “Today”, the Pope recalled, “we celebrate the Feast Day of St Peter Claver, a missionary who travelled far to proclaim the Gospel. Perhaps he thought that his future would be one of preaching: later the Lord asked him to draw near to the unwanted people of that time, to slaves”, to people “who were brought there from Africa to be sold”. And this man “was not strolling around, boasting that he was evangelizing; he did not reduce evangelization to functionalism nor to proselytism”. St Peter Claver “proclaimed Jesus Christ through his actions, by speaking to the slaves, living with them and living like them”. And “there are many people like him in the Church who die to themselves in order to proclaim Jesus Christ”.

Before continuing the celebration, the Pope said that “all of us, brothers and sisters, have the obligation to evangelize, which does not mean knocking on your neighbour’s door and saying: ‘Christ is risen!’”. Rather, it is primarily “living the faith, and speaking of it with meekness, with love,


without the desire of persuading anyone, but freely”, because to evangelize “is to freely give that which God freely gave to me”.


© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana 


A Matter Of Style
Posted On : 21 Sep 2016  
Posted by Fr. Fr. Daniel Christian
Posted On : 04 Jan 2017  
Posted by Fr. Editorial
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Homily 28th Jan 2018 by  Fr Lawrence
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Homily 14th Jan 2018 by  Fr Melwyn
Date: 14 Jan 2018
Daily Readings
 Mar 24th, 2018
EZ 37:21-28
Thought of the day
    Mar 24th, 2018 EZ 37:21-28 Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent Lectionary: 256 Reading 1 Thus says the Lord GOD: I will take the children of Israel from among the nations to which they have come, and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land. I will make them one nation upon the land, in the mountains of Israel, and there shall be one prince for them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms. No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols, their abominations, and all their transgressions. I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy, and cleanse them so that they may be my people and I may be their God. My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all; they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees. They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where their fathers lived; they shall live on it forever, they, and their children, and their children's children, with my servant David their prince forever. I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD, who make Israel holy, when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever. Responsorial Psalm JER 31:10, 11-12ABCD, 13 R. (see 10d) The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock. Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, proclaim it on distant isles, and say: He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together, he guards them as a shepherd his flock. R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock. The LORD shall ransom Jacob, he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror. Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the LORD's blessings: The grain, the wine, and the oil, the sheep and the oxen. R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock. Then the virgins shall make merry and dance, and young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows. R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock. Verse Before The Gospel EZ 18:31 Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Gospel JN 11:45-56 Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, "What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation." But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish." He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him. So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves. They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, "What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?"
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