The Flame: November-December 2021
Dear Readers of the Flame,
My parish has recently partnered with an organization
called Evangelical Catholic.
The purpose of this ministry is
to train Catholics to become missionary disciples. From my
viewpoint, it is the most thorough type of training available
for Catholic laity in parish settings.
One of the daily prayer exercises for those in training with
Evangelical Catholic focused on this quote from the
encyclical The Mission of the Redeemer by St. John Paul II.
The subject of proclamation is Christ who was
crucified, died and is risen: through him is
accomplished our full and authentic liberation from
evil, sin and death; through him God bestows “new
life” that is divine and eternal. This is the “Good
News” which changes man and his history, and which
all peoples have a right to hear. This proclamation is
to be made within the context of the lives of the
individuals and peoples who receive it. It is to be
made with an attitude of love and esteem toward
those who hear it, in language which is practical and
adapted to the situation. In this proclamation the
Spirit is at work and establishes a communion
between the missionary and his hearers, a
communion which is possible inasmuch as both
enter into communion with God the Father through
Christ. (#44, §3)
I found this paragraph an amazing summary of the gospel
message, to whom it is to be communicated, how it is to
be communicated and what makes it effective. Let me
highlight some of its key points.
The heart of the Good News is Jesus Himself, crucified,
died and risen who liberates from evil, sin and death.
This fundamental tenet can be easily overlooked.
As important as it is to better this world, the message
of the gospel focuses on changing people. Genuinely
converted people will make the world a better place.
They will seek to improve this world because they
desire to please their Lord. Also, living for the Lord
will keep us from living for the world in a way that is
destructive for both the person and the world.
Having a hope that is eternal and based on God will
keep people from simply striving for more of the
All peoples have a right to hear this Good News.
We live in an age focused on personal rights.
Do webelieve that each person has the right to hear about
Jesus? If they have the right to hear the gospel, it
means that we have an obligation to share it with
them. As individuals, we do not want to trample on
their rights by muzzling our mouths. Also, because
people have a right to hear the gospel, governments
do not have the right to suppress the gospel.
This proclamation is to be made with an attitude of love
and esteem toward those who hear it.
We need to approach people with love and esteem.
We need to beg the Holy Spirit to give us that perfect
love which casts out fear (see I John 4:18). Fear of
rejection inhibits our ability to share our faith and
makes us overly defensive about it. Love and esteem
for people produces a zeal for souls that helps the
hearer feel that we really care for them.
It is to be proclaimed in language that is practical and
adapted to the situation.
Jesus literally met people where they were at: in their
fishing boats (Peter, James and John), at their office
(Matthew) and even by the trunk of a tree (Zacchaeus).
He spoke to them using stories and images from daily
life. If we share our faith using only religious clichés or
pious thoughts, we may hurt more than help the cause.
We need to bring our faith in Christ to people in ways
that connect with them where they are at.
In proclamation the Spirit is at work and establishes a
communion between the missionary and his hearers.
Prayer is the key. Prayer keeps us connected with Jesus
Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit. Also, intercessory
prayer brings God’s grace to work in the hearts and
minds of the hearers. If we are genuinely striving to
deepen our relationship with the Lord and are praying
for those we minister to, God will be at work in their
lives before we share, while we share and after we
share. The Spirit will create a lifegiving relationship with
those we serve. This “communion is possible because
both the proclaimer and those receiving the message
enter into communion with God the Father through
St. John begins his gospel with these words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning
with God. All things came to be through him and
without him nothing came to be. What came to be
through him was life, and this life was the light of the
human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the
darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
So many people are in the dark about life. Some recognize the
absurdity of their situation. Many seem to try to find life through
distraction and escape. Others make a god of their work or
money or even people.
The goal of evangelization is to bring people back to God, who
“delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us
to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have
redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.”
He has called us “out darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter
What we have seen and heard we proclaim now…so
that (others) may have fellowship with us; for our
fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus
Christ…so that our joy may be complete. (I John 1:3-4)
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to make us effective witnesses of
Jesus. We want to brighten up our darkened world.
Fr. Bob Franco
Bishop’s Delegate to Catholic Renewal Ministries