Part Two of a Five Part Series
In our previous post on this topic, we looked at the importance – indeed fundamental necessity – of proclaiming the Kerygma, and tried to take a preliminary step towards doing so. Now we’re going to take a closer look as to how we might take the power of its message and connect with people where they are at.
|Evangelisation||Kerygmatic Proclamation #2: Individual Situations|
|Objective||Explore ways of helping people come to perceive and accept the message of the Gospel in and through their lived experience|
|Seedtime||33 minutes (watch 24 minute video, read 9 minute blog post )|
|Feedtime||1 hour 10 minutes|
|Directive||Spend 30 minutes preparing (details below), then 20 minutes each talking to two people about the relevance of the Gospel to their lives|
We’re going to begin with a video. Whilst watching, keep a pen and paper to hand and be ready to take notes in case that will help you. What you need to be attentive to is this: In this homily Fr. John deliberately targets two to three (the first is covered quite briefly) specific areas that might distance people from Jesus or give them an opinion of Him that is less than sufficient. His message remains simply kerygmatic, but it is focused with the intention of removing blocks in those areas, to help his listeners to accept the message. Make a note (mentally at least – but written notes may help) of each of these areas as they arise, and of how he targets the misconception with the simple truth of the Gospel.
Now here is your mission:
First of all take time to prayerfully identify how to engage. Spend about half an hour at this. The first step in this is to identify particular things in the lives of those you love and care about that might be acting as blocks in their lives that prevent them from knowing Jesus and the life changing reality of His Love. Here is a list of a few examples, including those from the video above:
- Personal sinfulness, shame and guilt
- The idea that Jesus is weak and we need other ‘strong’ role models
- Bitterness over painful areas one’s life or history
- A feeling of powerlessness in the face of struggles
- A desire to control things and not submit to what can’t be empirically verified
- Fear of what saying yes to following Jesus might entail
- A lack of experience of the reality of God’s love
You can expand on this list – just think of people in your life who don’t really know Jesus, or may have some block in their relationship with Him, and consider why. Add whatever comes up for you, but you don’t need to spend too long or be scrupulous about the list being exhaustive. When you’re happy with it consider how you can apply the simple message of the Gospel, in a way that is neither overthought nor flippant, to the reality of those issues. If God became Man, and died and rose for the person who carries that burden, how can that obliterate the block? You can be assured, whatever the issue is, that the power of the Gospel can, but take some time to pray and think about how you can be at the service of their coming into contact effectively. How can you help to encourage someone struggling under a particular weight to accept that power and let it in?
It is important to note that this preparation is a prayerful consideration to help open yourself to being present to people’s suffering, and more present again to the power of the Holy Spirit in the midst of it. Whilst you may have some ideas of things you could say or ways in which you could lead the conversation, the purpose here is not to formulate a speech or plan a conversation before it begins. Rather, it is to open yourself to being used to convey God’s power in the reality of your own weakness and the unpredictability of what may come.
Next comes the active part. Identify people you would like to try to share the message with. The ideal here would probably be to aim at talking to people you’re going to see over the course of the coming days, but using the phone is possible to complete the task.
If you struggle with deciding upon people, you’re probably overthinking what bringing the Kergyma into lived situations involves. Whilst it definitely does help to create an opening if somebody just randomly starts telling you their life story, deepest fears or regrets – you don’t need this to happen in order to find an opportunity. We all encounter multiple situations most days (if not all), into which the message of the Gospel can and should be invited. That chronically stressed family member – needs Jesus. That colleague who has an irrational grudge against you – needs Jesus. That acquaintance whose problems seem to be recurring – needs Jesus. That lonely old lady who lives next door – needs Jesus.
There is no shortage of room to proclaim the message to in our day to day lives – nevertheless, if all else fails in getting the list to three people, just walk the streets until you find someone begging. Sit down beside them, ask their name and how they wound up on the streets – and you will very soon have an opening to share the Kerygma. Be ready to take it.
In reality we are not short of people who need to hear the Gospel spoken into their lives, we hesitate because we’re afraid. Afraid that we’ll be too vulnerable if we speak the Word directly into the situation, that we could look silly, that it’ll come out wrong, that the message will be rejected – and that we will feel rejected with it. We say things like we’re afraid we’ll push them further away if we are too direct, but the fact is if somebody knows you love them (and people can tell) and if you are speaking from the depths of your heart (as opposed to trying to score a point) that is unlikely to happen. They may not be ready to accept Jesus’ invitation, but that’s not our responsibility – we’re just messengers.
This detachment doesn’t mean we have to be insensitive to timing, wording and approach. On the contrary, this Rose is intended to prepare us to pitch those things appropriately. It does, however, mean that there are times we have to press on without being certain we have those things nailed, that we can’t get frozen in fear.
The decision to push past this made, let’s look at how we can meet people where they are at.
Examples of considerations in different situations you might encounter:
|Relationship with Jesus||Openly distanced from Christianity||Practising on some level – sees you as OTT||Practising, takes faith relatively seriously|
|Specific Gifts||Perfect situation to approach with the simplicity of the Gospel message as something fresh||Not completely unfamiliar with the Gospel. May well be just waiting to understand from a different angle.||Likely to be open to having a conversation about Jesus and ready to understanding your points.|
|Specific Challenges||May simply want to be closed. Unfamiliarity: more bases for you to cover.||Could have barriers built up as a result of preconceptions about what it really means to open the doors to Christ.||May be offended or hurt if you give the impression you think there is something ‘wrong’ with their walk.|
|Variation in Your Approach||Begin with basics. Gauge levels of openness to see how far you can go.||Avoid being too forceful. Find things in their present understanding you can build on.||Be very sensitive to existing relationship with Jesus and ready to learn.|
One could write books about all the ways in which these conversations can be approached. In reality Jesus approaches each soul personally and uniquely and we can only strive to be in union with Him and be ready to be at the service of that approach – if He so wills. The above are given for some general ideas in the hope of making it possible to consider factors in how to go about things, but don’t get bogged down in those factors! At this point we’re going to leave off practical theory and entrust the next step to the Holy Spirit…
Come Holy Spirit
Come by the means of the most powerful intercession
of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Your Well Beloved Spouse
On a practical level, the directives here indicate 2 x 20 minute conversations. In practice the conversations may take longer than this or be shorter. You don’t need to be scrupulous about this, but it is given as a guideline. Try to aim so that the conversations (or if they take part in the context of a longer conversation the part that focuses on the Gospel and our lives) average something close to 20 minutes. If both conversations fall far short of this, add a third person and try to aim to have at least one longer conversation. This might seem difficult, but only in intentional practice will we become more confident in sharing the love of Christ – and so we begin!