Hello, my brother Oblates and Oblate Associates.
This past week we had a Spring Congress Day in the Saskatoon Diocese. It was presented by the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis. The third presentation called us to the necessity of putting 100% of our efforts toward Evangelization as the sole mission of the Church. It was a very enthusiastic and excellent presentation especially as we look at a church in decline and members, notably youth, not attracted to the structures of religion. But the basic question of how to evangelize, how to offer the Good News to call to conversion and commitment remains controversial.
Is it enough to preach that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, entered our world to invite us to repentance and to save us from our sins? That Jesus died upon the cross and shed his blood to redeem us? That Jesus calls us to become his disciples and promises everlasting life within the Trinity in heaven? What is the core Gospel and if it does not capture the heart, are we speaking a language that fails to respond to what is the deepest desire of the contemporary human heart?
I ask that question as I fear that many understand Evangelization as a very personal individual call to salvation from sin. I believe that the promise of Christ, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full”, will attract only if we speak, as St. Eugene directed, “the language of the people.” What is the “full life” that we must offer? I believe it embraces the truth that we are the “beloved”, every person at every stage of life has equal dignity. I believe this principle has ramifications regarding capital punishment, the life of the unborn, the life of the elderly and handicapped, the life of mentally ill, an economy for all, respect for our common home, gun control, peace not war, the right to emigrate, freedom of conscience, respect for LGBTQ persons, equal access to vaccines etc.
I believe that his commandment to “love one another as you love yourself” is an invitation to recognize that the need of “Fratelli tutti” is as important to me as satisfying my own need. I believe that Jesus came not only to reveal the Divine; “Whoever sees me sees the Father”, but came to reveal the human, “He was like us in all things but sin”. Yes, the compassionate, forgiving, serving one who loved in particular the sick, the broken, the marginalized is good news that can stir the hearts of any seeker today.
We see how people are ready to dismiss difference of race, gender, sexual orientation and stand together for the Christian principle of inclusion. We celebrate that today the fight against racism has taken some giant steps forward, as people of all color protest against oppressive systems.
Pope Francis twice weighed in on Floyd’s killing, saying last May that he was praying for the repose of Floyd’s soul, and for “all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.” In a follow-up interview, he praised the “many people who otherwise did not know each other, took to the streets to protest, united by a healthy indignation.”
Youth have passion for the good. Climate activist Xiye Bastida made a powerful speech to world leaders. “The need to accept the era of fossil fuels is over… You will often tell us, again and again, that we are being unrealistic and unreasonable. But who is being unrealistic and unreasonable with unambitious, unbold, so called solutions… You are the naïve ones if you think we can survive this crisis in the current way of living. You are the pessimists if you don’t believe we have what it takes to change the world.”
Do we use the opportunities that we have through our pulpit and through our pen to preach and use our privileged position to be allies for justice and the dignity of all, including our “common home”?
During COVID times we have more webinars and teaching available than usual. So many concerns invite us to stand and be counted. Have you made your voice heard in regard to Black Lives Matter, Bill C15, Bill 268, Equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, Just Transition after Covid, Gun control and so many other Gospel actions offered regularly by Richard Wink in our “Centre Oblat News”? Yes, this is where the word of God can be heard and very often it is the youth who courageously voice it.
By Ken Forster, OMI