Friday, October 3, 2014

We Evangelize by Who We Are

The month of October in Korea is the month of the Rosary and Mission. A time to live our faith more completely. We can't hide the violence that accompanies totalitarian nations in efforts to proselytize. In the world in which we live and the pluralism all around us does not diminish our call to be missioners. With these words the Desk Columnist of the Catholic Times reflects on the work of mission in today's world.

The world of Islam in many parts of the world has shown a flagrant animosity towards Christianity. They go about their mission without any restraints in spreading their message.They kidnap, threaten death, all seen as barbarous by the rest of the world.

What does it mean to preach the Gospel? What are we to do? In the early days of the Church it meant that you were likely to be martyred; you were going against the mores of the society in which you lived. Or just the opposite, when the Church became the National Church, it  became the tool of the State; used to  oppress and persecute the other religions. During those years all were made to submit by force to spread the politics of the country and to extort  monies. Many of the efforts in these totalitarian states used Christianity as their ideology.

Today the spreading of the Gospel is in a pluralistic environment. A world with different religions, many   with the ideals of Christianity. We have the continual stress and conflict with Islam. Many cultures and societies have their own traditions and religions with which we are in easy contact. Korea is an exhibition hall for the religions of the world, all vying  with each other, but for the most part peacefully. 

In this kind of world what does it mean to spread the faith? We use the word evangelize, spread the Gospel message, what should be our attitude as missioners for Jesus?

Catholicism did  not open its heart to the other religions until after the Second Vatican Council. There are those who feel the Church has tarnished its image by opening itself to the world and other religions.

He  divides the  focus on  evangelization into three  areas. Know who your are and your religious identity, respect the beliefs of others, and be able to  persuasively express your own beliefs to others.  Easy to say, but how do we go about doing this?  To respect the religion of the other and be strong in your own faith is not easy. 

However, he says, it is not walking a high wire. We need to be honest like little children, and express the happiness we have received from Jesus. Evangelization has to do with the way we live. We have the example from the early Church, Christians  lived already in God's kingdom in contrast to the outside society.

The early Christians were using the strong words of the message, but also living differently than those in  the society in which they lived. Heidegger said: 'Language is the house of Being."  Language is more than a tool it is the way we express ourselves.The message of a Christian comes from the life that is lived. When we live Christlike we are being missioners and evangelizing.