Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Evangelization

New Evangelization is the mission to bear witness to the Gospel of Christ with renewed fervor and to create and use new expressions and new methods in proclaiming the Good News.  New Evangelization sustains and does not change the salvific sufficiency of the Gospel, as “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
New expressions and methods in evangelization are necessary owing to these signs of the times: the globalization of information and communication and the ageing of the clergy and their steadily diminishing numbers in the older churches of Europe and North America.  With increasing access of masses of people to means of interactive communication, there is increasing discontent with one-way communication and authoritarian leadership in many parts of the world.  “Modern man is rebelling against paternalism in every sphere of life” (Theodore Wedel).
Old methods that involve unidirectional communication from top to bottom are giving way to methods that are interactive and dialogical.  New Evangelization is dialogical in its approach to other cultures, religions, and realms of expertise.  The dialogical way implies a humble Church, which recognizes its faults and imperfections and seeks the help of other cultures, religions, disciplines, and experts towards a better understanding of itself and the world. 
As one Vatican II document puts it: “Nowadays when things change so rapidly and thought patterns differ so widely, the Church needs to step up this exchange [with different cultures] by calling upon the help of people who are living in the world, who are expert in its organizations and its forms of training, and who understand its mentality, in the case of believers and nonbelievers alike” (Gaudium et Spes 44).
In dialogue with the natural and social sciences, the Church has developed a better understanding of the human condition.  In the process new expressions have been created by discerning believers and leaders among which is “integral evangelization.”  This new expression is a summary of a deep belief that the Gospel benefits the whole human person (body, mind and spirit), all human practices (political, economic, ecological, cultural, educational, and spiritual) and the whole of creation, “which waits in eager expectation for the sons [and daughters] of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:19).  Thus, every field of human activity, which affects ecological and social environments, is a field of evangelization, which bears the Gospel as leading source of visionary light. 
With integral evangelization, the Gospel is understood as a divine gift to the whole body of humankind with the whole of creation.  In the Philippines, integral evangelization requires a Church transformed into a “Church of the Poor,” a Church that is pro-poor for the sake of the common good and God’s Reign.  In such a renewed Church, “the Church will not only evangelize the poor…the poor in the Church will themselves become evangelizers.  Pastors will learn to be with, work with and learn from the poor.” (PCP II Document, 132)

Politics is a priority area of New Evangelization in the Philippines because, while politics can lead people to the common good, it has dehumanized many Filipinos by entrapping them in practices and procedures that violate or degrade human dignity.  Politics should protect and not degrade human dignity, which flows from God’s decision to create human beings, male and female, in the divine “image” as co-creators who also serve as guardians “over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:27-28).

Other examples of new expressions that will be helpful for the New Evangelization are “empowerment of the laity,” “empowerment of the poor,” and “inter-generational justice.”  More new expressions will emerge as new dialogical methods will be proposed, pursued, tried and tested.
New Evangelization carries the hope of creative fidelity to the Spirit of Christ and the promise of an abundant harvest of holiness and joy in the Church and justice and peace in the world.