24 September 2008 Wednesday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 9, 1-6 Faith on the Go
When Jesus chose the Twelve apostles, He decided to share His mission with them. In the Gospel today, Jesus sent them to do what He does: to preach and proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal people of their maladies. It is therefore important that the care for the body and soul become part of the concern of evangelization.
The necessity of caring for the body is important in preaching the Gospel. It is difficult to teach when the stomach is empty. I was assigned as Campus Minister of Xavier University High School in Cagayan de Oro City. Students who were members of religious organizations went to a public elementary school to teach catechism and tutor children in Math, Science and English. We were given permission by the school authorities to teach after school. At first, the children were distracted when we began our classes, eventually many of them would make their way home. We realized they were already hungry. So, we decided to provide some food for both the student tutors and the children. We got the food from the daily offerings of classes who sponsored school masses. In lieu of flowers and fruits, we requested food items and beverages. Since then, the kids regularly attended the classes.
Second, the disciples were to preach the Kingdom of God. In our world today, to preach the Kingdom of God can be done through different means: from oral tradition to print to television and now to cyber-evangelization. The internet is now a new way of preaching the Gospel.
But despite the availability of venues to teach, many Catholics do not know what to teach. The 2nd Plenary Council of the Philippines affirmed that though our faith is genuine, it failed to be a ‘leaven of transformation’ in Philippine Society. Many Filipino Catholics are ignorant of the doctrines of the faith. If the people kept the faith it was largely because of popular beliefs and practices like the rosary, processions, novenas, etc. But many Filipinos are not able to give an account of what they believe (PCP II, Position Paper on Religious Concerns). Many of us think that faith is an uncritical acceptance of a set of abstract truths. If one cannot understand certain things, then that is the realm of faith. But this is a misconception. Faith has an intellectual component. Faith includes a belief in the teachings of Christ. These teachings are found both in Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church.
Finally Luke stresses the importance of spreading the Gospel everywhere. This is the Lucan theme of universality: the Gospel for all peoples. Our mission as Christians is not just to enrich those who are already within the faith, but to continually reach out to others. In the past, the idea of preaching is proselytizing: to convert them. Today, we affirm that the most important thing is dialogue: understanding people of different faith traditions. This I believe is the reason why Jesus asked their disciples to trust in the Lord: their stark provisions and dependence on God’s providence helps them keep an open mind and heart. They may have to leave their “way of doing things” and adapt to another culture. And therefore make use of their cultural expressions in the transmission and assimilation of their faith.