Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 11, 2002
Parishes' top priority - tell the good news
By FR. JOHN SPICER
"Evangelization" - what does it mean? For one thing, it doesn't sound English. It isn't. It's been borrowed from the Greeks. But it simply means "good news."
When the Greeks won a battle, when their king visited one of his cities, when an heir was born to the king, that was "good news" to the Greeks.
The early Christians, living in a Greek cultural world, borrowed the word "evangelization" and applied it to the Christ event. For the birth, the life, the teachings, and the death-resurrection of Jesus was "good news."
Indeed it was the best possible news, a news that was meant for the entire world. (In early England "good news" became "good spell," from which came the word "Gospel.")
So there we have it. Jesus is the good news. He was good news in his lifetime. He is good news now.
And he will always be good news.
Good news, especially good news meant for all human beings, deserves to be shared. Indeed it must be shared.
That is what "evangelization" is all about - sharing the good news of Jesus.
That we Christians are to share the good news of Jesus is clear from Jesus' own words, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose" (Luke 4:43). Before leaving this life Jesus made it clear that his followers were to carry on this challenge, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole of creation" (Mark 16:15).
But that's the work of bishops and priests you might say. And you are quite right.
But it is also the work of every Christian.
The Second Vatican Council made that clear. In its document on the Church, the council says, "The obligation of spreading the faith is imposed on every disciple of Christ, according to his or her ability" (n.17).
Again in the same document we read, "Upon all the laity, therefore rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation ever increasingly to all peoples of each epoch and in every land" (n. 33).
So, where do we stand today in regard to this challenge? Dare we ask some hard questions?
Are we really doing our best to spread the good news? Are our parishes centred on the "good news?"
Is the "good news" the principal concern of parish councils?
If not we're in trouble.
But if, on the contrary, the "good news" is our principal concern, then the other challenges and the other problems that are part of every life and of every parish, will be the more easily handled.
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