I spend a lot of time helping to form volunteers and ministers in parishes and schools. We have spent time in prayer and reflection, time learning about our rich faith, time redefining our priorities, and time learning how to do the ministry to which we have been called. However, as I reflect on encountering these wonderful people and accompanying them on their journey with Christ, I fear I have been missing an important step: the proclamation of the kerygma.
What is the kerygma? Monsignor Charles Pope wrote about its basic meaning:
That we are lost in our sins, that those deep drives are destroying us, and that God has sent the Savior, Jesus Christ, who died to set us free and offer us whole new life. It is he who calls to you now, who is drawing you to himself, that he might save you and give to you a whole new life. He died to give you this life, and having been raised from the dead, he ascended to the Father, where he is drawing you to himself even now, calling you by name, and offering you deliverance from every sinful and destructive drive, establishing you in a new, more glorious, and hopeful life. Come to him now, then repent of your sins, and let him begin the good work in you.
Very simply put, we are called to be disciples and make disciples. To do this, we must tell THE story, the Good News. Yet, how often have we been to a meeting or conference and heard all about grace and trinity and transubstantiation, but the name of Jesus has not been heard?
I had the privilege of spending three hours with twenty devoted volunteers at Our Lady of the Mountains where we really delved into the kerygma. We asked ourselves and each other:
- What does it mean to be a Catholic?
- Can we encounter those who are lost? Do we know how to tell them that we have found a way?
- How did we hear the kerygma?
- When did we first become intentional disciples? (Has this really happened to us?)
I invite you to practice your witness of faith in an “elevator speech” and to consider how it might change when the listener is an elementary school student, a youth, a disenfranchised Catholic, or a family member. How can you ensure that the kerygma is an essential first step in your encounter and accompaniment with others?