Global Perspectives on the New Evangelization
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply,“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, ‘Your God is King!’” (Isa- iah 52:7). Evangelization is something beautiful. Derived from the Greek word, euaggelion, evangelization means to bear a “happy/blessed message.” It is safe to say that every human being longs for good news, and the entire drama of salvation history, as revealed especially in Scripture and Tradition, hinges on a claim to the best news there is. In a word, salvation through divine intimacy—Emmanuel, God with us (see Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). And as for the essence of this salvation? Isaiah’s witness makes it clear: a return to goodness, peace, and the lordship of God.
The bridge of meaning between Isaiah’s text and the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth is unmistakable: “After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel (euaggelion) of God: ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14–15). Jesus not only proclaims the good news indicated by Isaiah—“Your God is King!”—he manifests and embodies it. Jesus is the good news of God in person: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). In Jesus’s humanity united with his divinity, the good news of God becomes sacrament through the perpetual liturgy of incarnation. Yet the totality of God’s revelation in Jesus is laced with paradox. He is a servant king. His royal garments are stark naked- ness. His crown is woven of thorns. His ministry is unconcerned with the accumulation of material wealth but, to the contrary, is about giving all away. His queen is a vestal virgin, the Church, in persona Mariae, and he reigns from a wooden throne of suffering.
In the twenty-first century, the paradoxical message of the Gospel is no less shock- ing than it was two thousand years ago. If anything, it is even more riveting to scientific sensibilities and to a surging expansion of secularism taking root in virtually every cultural setting of the world. As Pope Paul VI put it in his 1975 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi, we have entered definitively “a new period of evangelization (feliciora evange- lizationis tempora)” (2). In other words, today we find ourselves in a happy and profitable season to evangelize.
This book series, Global Perspectives on the New Evangelization, aims to contribute to the mission field of this “New Evangelization.” By offering fresh voices from a diversity of perspectives, these books put Catholic theology into dialogue with a host of conversa- tion partners around a variety of themes. Through the principle of inculturation, rooted in that of incarnation, this series seeks to reawaken those facets of truth found in the beautiful complementarity of cultural voices as harmonized in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.Series editors:
John C. Cavadini and Donald Wallenfang,