As far as I’m concerned, this chapter summarizes everything I’m excited about in this book and have been struggling to explain (in my clunky, slow, hard-to-understand way) to everyone around me.
The whole point of all the work we do is a relationship with Jesus. Period. Exclamation point! Question mark?
Because there seems to be a question mark, at least from my view as a parish employee.
How? When? What? WHY?
Well, the “why” should seem self-explanatory, but I’m not sure it is. Or maybe I’m writing this from a cynical mindset.
We must be clear: The purpose of evangelization is not waking up a generic “faith.” Evangelizers seek to bring people to an encounter with the person of Jesus of Nazareth, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, and risen from the dead. Our own personal witness can help illuminate and make living, compelling, and believable aspects of Jesus’ story, but it cannot take the place of Jesus’ story.
Kerygma refers to the preaching of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. God became man, died and was buried, and then, get this!, rose again. We have to proclaim this Good News, to have it as part of who we are and how we are. It’s the essence of Christianity—it’s what makes us Christians.
Jesus was born, he died, and he rose again.
On an episode of Dora (which may or may not be running in the background), there would be a map involved, and I can think of just the journey we’d take with her help. “Say it with me! Jesus was born! He died! He rose again!” Yaaaay! Wheeeee!
It seems so simple, doesn’t it? We get so caught up in the catechetical piece or the social aspect that we fail to see that none of that matters without a foundation. The foundation is an individual, an encounter with a Person. It’s in our own personal relationship with Jesus himself.
Ultimately, it is the two together—an open heart and a response to the Great Story of Jesus—that enables an individual to declare with faith, “Jesus is Lord.” Indeed, the two feed each other: learning about Jesus through his story can motivate people to finish the personal journey, while moving through the thresholds enables us to understand the story of Jesus as a whole and respond to it.
This speaks to me and my Christian upbringing. It also worries me a bit, as a long-time catechist and now as a parent. Am I making sure that Jesus is at the heart of what I’m doing as a Christian?
It is often disconcerting for Catholics to realize that the basic kerygma that awakens Christian faith and leads to the Church is not primarily about the Church herself.
And there’s the money quote from this week’s chapter. The Truth will lead to Rome, but the Truth is not about Rome.
Weddell concludes the chapter with what she calls “The Great Story of Jesus in Nine Acts.” I’ll be honest: I skimmed. (This summer study is kicking my butt too, y’all. Don’t think for a moment that it’s not!) I have it marked to re-read when I haven’t just finished a week of VBS and a weekend of Confirmation retreat-ing.
Sharing the Gospel WITH WORDS isn’t my strength. But, thanks to this chapter (and this book), I’m definitely paying attention to how I can work it in, make sure it’s foremost in my conversations and assumptions.
Join the discussion over at CatholicMom.com! There’s a summary (you don’t have to read the book to participate!) and some great questions to get you started.