Most Holy Father, Synod Fathers, my dear Sisters and Brothers in Jesus Christ !
I would like to begin this sharing with one of the most powerful moments of evangelization in my personal life. This happened 20 years ago when I was sent to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome to study the Bible. My grandfather who was 92 year old told me the following : “when you study the Bible in Rome, it should not become an intellectual exercise, but a spiritual experience of awakening, an experience of encountering God in the Bible. Always keep this in mind : to be a biblical student/scholar does not merely mean that you master the Word of God but allowing the Word of God to master your life” ! It was easier for me to teach mathematics and physics, but teaching the New Testament is a difficult task as it constantly challenges me to enter into a process of Kenosis : self-renunciation, sacrifice and suffering for the sake of the Gospel values. My teaching ministry has become a WAY of participating in the Paschal Mystery of Christ in my daily life.
When I think of the New Evangelization, I cannot but turn to the Gospel of John, my favourite Gospel. The very first words of Jesus to the disciples in the Gospel of John were : Ti zeteite (what do you seek, want, or long for) ? I think, Jesus is asking the same question to all of us here : what do you long for ? What do you expect of this synod ? Just as the first disciples of Jesus, we want to ask Jesus : pou meneis ? Where do you abide ? Where does God abide in our world today ? And Jesus is inviting us to “come and see” (John 1:37-39) and we want to journey with Jesus !!
As we journey with Jesus, the Christian way of life emerging from the Gospel of John is characterized by three dimensions : (1) contemplation (abiding in God’s love), (2) communion (loving one another) (3) commitment (bearing fruit or accomplishing God’s work).
(1) Contemplation is our way of abiding in God’s love by constant communication and deep communion with God, our personal relationship with Jesus. This contemplation leads us to an abiding relationship with one another.
(2) Communion refers to our mission ad intra. John 13 presents “the love for one another” as a sign of Christian identity in the world, and the Johannine Jesus prays for the unity of the Christians - that “they may be ONE” (John 17). We are called to recreate in our parish communities that special life of love, which will make others comment : ‘they are truly the people of God’ !
(3) Communion (agape and koinonia) would manifest itself in a life-giving community that fosters the well-being of all its members. The church then becomes a dwelling place of God in the secular world of broken relationships. Commitment refers to our mission ad extra. The mission consists in revealing God’s gracious, merciful, immense love in the world today through our active participation in the mission of God always in favour of the poor, the needy and the suffering. The passion for God’s mission calls us to walk the way of continual conversion (metanoia) and discernment (diakrisis) (1Cor 12:10), as we dare to dream a new society characterized by freedom from the slavery of sin, social justice (which includes economic wellbeing and political freedom), gender equality (which is more humane as well as divine), safety and integrity of creation (which is part of God’s project for humanity), thus making God’s Reign here on earth visible, leading us all to the eschatological salvation and the fullness of life.
The Evangelization continues when we allow the Word of God to master our lives, when we have a greater integration of these three essential aspects of our Christian WAY of LIFE – contemplation, communion and commitment – in our way of announcing the good news of Salvation in Jesus Christ freely and joyfully. Thank You !