Thursday, 24 July 2003

Vatican City (Fides Service) - I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest.” (Jn 4, 35). These words of the Lord resound today in our heart and they show the vast horizon of the mission of love of the incarnate Word, a mission handed on to the whole Church. He leaves the mission as a command and a legacy to every Christian, and especially to the young particular Churches, to catechists in mission territories. Truly great is the mystery of love of which they have become servants.
It is with these words that I desire to situate my brief comment on the Pope’s missionary prayer intention for the month of August, to lift our prayers to God and sing the wonders of the Lord whose greatness and mercy is seen above all in giving rise in his Church to catechists – priests, deacons and laity – called in a special way to make the Truth of the faith shine in the darkness of present day man’s distance from God, in the shadows of rejection of the presence of God which still after two thousand years covers no few hearts. In this sense we join the catechists and we repeat with renewed joy the ancient words of gratitude “Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo”! (Ps 89,2).
We cannot forget that catechesis is first of all traditio Evangelii which, in the profound significance of St Paul’s theology, means transmission of dynamis Theou, the power of God for the salvation of all believers” (Rom 1,16); and this is achieved firstly and mainly through the Word, the sacraments and the pastoral regime of the priest ordained a “man of God” (1 Tim 6,11) and “servant of Christ” (1 Cor 4,1). The activity of the catechist is proclamation, witness and sharing of the Good News, focused on the Person of Christ, who comes to reveal himself to man and to “show him the path by which he can be reached” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente 6). We understand then, that to carry the Gospel to others, to bring people to Christ, catechists must always accept the Gospel themselves, serving with docility the living Word who will not fail to act through those who are “obedient in faith” (Rom 1,5) in liberty and love.
For this task the Church and the world need catechists who are holy, who, although aware of their weaknesses and limits, nevertheless strive to walk the path of adhesion to the truth in charity, in faithful correspondence to divine grace, according to the different charisma received and in harmony with each one’s different state of life. “May every man and women, in Christ see the salvation of God! For this they must meet him, know him, follow him. This, my dearly beloved, is the mission of the Church: this is your mission! The Pope tells you: Go! Like the Baptist prepare the ways for the Lord who comes”. We hear re-echoing in our hearts the words of the Holy Father (homily 10/2/2000) on the occasion of the Jubilee of Catechists and Teachers of Religion during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 who had come from the five continents to St Peter’s Square: those words seem to join and give new life to that command of Christ, always valid, Put out into the deep!
At the tombs of the apostles, Peter, the founding rock of the church (Mt 16,18) and Paul, the apostle of the gentiles (Acts 17,21), in the place sanctified by the blood of so many martyrs, many “unknown solders of God’s great cause” (TMA 37) the Pontiff recalled that “The catechist is called to point to Jesus as the awaited Messiah, the Christ. The task of the catechist is to invite people to contemplate Jesus and to follow him, because he alone is the Master, the Lord, the Saviour. As precursor the catechist must not present himself but Christ” “We want to see Jesus” (Jn 12, 21). This request made to the apostle Philip by some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem, two thousand years ago, resounds spiritually still today in mission territories.
To the young Churches of the beginning of the third millennium we can apply the words of the Prophet Isaiah “The darkness covers the earth, the nations are wrapped in clouds, but upon you shines the Lord, his glory appears in you”. (Is 60 2-3) The young missionary Church with renewed sense of responsibility is called to dress itself in light (Is 60,1) to shine like a city built on the hill. “The Church – the Holy Father affirms commenting these words of the Prophet – cannot remain hidden (cfr Mt 5,14) because people need to hear her message of light and hope and to give glory to the Father who is in heaven (cfr Mt 5,16) (Homily 6 January 1999).
It is necessary to start out again from Christ, to meet him first of all in prayer, to know and love him in the holy Eucharist, so we Christians can reflect his Face and become living members of his Body, the Church. Everyone can ride the waves of the history of humanity “amidst persecutions of the world the consolations of God” as Saint Augustine wrote (De Civitate Dei XVIII 51,2: PL 41,614) announcing to all men the passion and death of the Lord until he comes again (cfr 1 Cor 11,26). Saint Gregory of Nissa wrote: “For the commands of the Gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit grow in us, Christ must be born in us” (Contro Eunomio III).
United with missionary catechists, I address Mary the Church’s first catechist. Who better than Mary can help us and encourage us in this task? Who better than Mary can teach us to love and proclaim that Face upon which she looked with immense love and total dedication all through his life, from the moment of his birth to the hour of the Cross and the dawn of the Resurrection? From the Mother of Christ we can draw the strength necessary for proclaiming and witnessing to all the message of the Gospel, imitating her faith.
Mary, the “woman of the Eucharist” “the first tabernacle in history” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 55) who united Heaven and earth with her “yes” to the words of the Angel, teaches us to say Amen filled with “eucharistic wonder” and faith, every time we approach men and women to offer than the Truth for which they long, at times unawares: Christ Jesus (the Living one” (Rev 1,18) “the one who is, who was and who comes (Rev 1,4). Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos. (Fides Service 24/7/2003 EM lines 73 Words: 1,055)