Last and New

I am writing my last message for this year. I would like to introduce the coming New Year with this message.

These days, I am asking forgiveness for my preaching during these 30 years of priesthood. I am asking forgiveness for the way I have failed to help my congregations to grow into a mature faith, and instead I have contributed for those who were of little faith to remain childish. Maybe I am responsible for those who have abandoned the faith, the sacraments and the Church, at a time of trial. May be I am responsible for their lack of strength and for not being equipped by the right convictions and motivations.

When I look back, I can trace what has misled me. When I was a Deacon, still in formation, I used to receive a lot of criticism and suggestions with regard to my preaching. I still do, but for other reasons. I remember the repeated observation of one particular priest, that during my homilies I rather put questions to the congregation and leave them without providing them the answers. This must have influenced me very much. So much so that very often one “positive” comment I receive is that I am a good teacher.

Today I am realizing that a good teacher is not necessarily what people think a good teacher should be. Is a good teacher the one who induces information, or is it the one who motivates, stimulates, encourages and guides his students to study, to research, and to love learning?

Before the Lord convicted me about this issue, I had already been wondering for quite some months now about the effectiveness of my preaching. The Lord has drawn me towards evangelization since my Baptism in the Spirit, even before my Ordination. Receiving such “complements” from people that I am a good teacher, made me put my preaching into question. If what is urgently needed today is a new evangelization – and for one, I am more than convinced of this -, is teaching what I should be doing?

After more than 30 years since the call of Blessed Pope John Paul II for a new evangelization, it seems that now everybody in the Church is aware of this need. Yet, why is it that in our pastoral work in the parishes, we have more teachings, catechisms, and bible studies, rather than evangelization? Why is it that we still assume that people who attend our liturgies and ceremonies have faith which we, wrongly, think of making it grow and mature by teachings, catechisms, bible studies etc.?

If people have faith, then they do not need to be re-evangelized. Yes, if they have faith they need to grow and mature in their faith. But the way towards that is by leading them and giving them space to evangelize. This is what Blessed Pope John Paul II said in His Encyclical “Redemptoris Missio”: faith grows by sharing it. If they have faith, they would be seeking teachings, catechisms, bible studies etc, by themselves. If they do not have any thirst for these, it is because they lack faith; and faith comes by hearing the Good News, by evangelization.

It is true that we call Jesus The Master. However, maybe we have done what His contemporaries and the apostles did with His being the Messiah. We confess the title, but we provide the meaning! It is only lately that I am realizing how Jesus The Master has put more questions and providing answers. These days we are celebrating the Mystery of the Incarnation, and we miss everything if we think that Jesus has come to solve our problems, our enigmas, our mysteries and questions. Jesus is the Emmanu-el; He came to be God-with-us. Jesus came to accompany us in our search for meaning, in our search for God.

Since His childhood, Jesus, whom His parents had lost by the age of twelve, is found in the temple “hearing and asking questions to the doctors”. The Year 2012 is the 2,000 Anniversary of this unique and important event of Christ, so important that St Luke deemed to be the only incident not to be missed in the whole thirty years of the hidden life of Jesus.

For the next year, we are giving a new look to our website’s Home Page. Just to be a continuous reminder and an invitation to let Jesus put personal questions to all our visitors. He is assuring us also that He is there, right besides us, to listen to our deepest questions.

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February 2018
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