The Gospel, A Gift for Every Person
The Gospel of God’s love for us, the call to take part in the life of the Father, through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit, is a gift meant for everyone. We proclaim Jesus himself who calls everyone to conversion for the Kingdom of God. To emphasize this fact, Jesus drew especially near to those on the margins of society, giving them special favour, when he proclaimed the Gospel. At the beginning of his ministry, he proclaimed that he was sent to preach the good news to the poor (cf. Lk 4:18). To those despised and dejected, Jesus declares: “Blessed are you poor” (Lk 6:20) and, by standing with them, enables these individuals already to experience a sense of freedom (cf. Lk 5:30; 15:2). He eats with them, treats them as brothers and sisters and as friends (cf. Lk 7:34) and helps them to feel loved by God, thus revealing his great compassion for sinners and those, in need.
The freedom and salvation brought by the Kingdom of God touch every human person both physically and spiritually. Two actions are attached to Jesus’ work of evangelization: healing and forgiving. Multiple miracles of healing clearly demonstrate his great compassion in the face of human misery. They also indicate that, in the Kingdom, there will no longer be sickness and suffering and that, from the outset, his mission is aimed at freeing people from sickness and suffering (cf. Rev 21:4). Jesus’ miracles of healing are also a sign of the salvation of the spirit, namely liberation from sin. In performing acts of healing, he invites people to faith, conversion and a desire for forgiveness (cf. Lk 5:24). Received in faith, healing leads to salvation (cf. Lk 18:42). Deliverance from demonic possession, the ultimate evil and symbol of sin and rebellion against God, is a sign that “the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt 12:28) and that the Gospel, a gift of Salvation meant for every person, initiates us into a process of transformation and participation in the life of God, who renews us in the present moment.
“I have no silver or gold but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). Like St. Peter the Apostle, the Church also continues faithfully to proclaim the Gospel for the good of each person. To the cripple who asks him for something on which to live, St. Peter responds by offering the gift of the Gospel which heals him, thus opening the way to salvation. In this way, in the course of time, in virtue of her work of evangelization, the Church gives flesh and visibility to the prophecy in Revelation: “Behold I make all things new” (Rev 21:5), transforming humanity and history itself from within, so that the faith of Christ and the life of the Church might no longer be foreign to the society in which both humanity and history exist, but can permeate and transform it.
Evangelization consists in proposing the Gospel which transforms the human individual, his world and his personal story. The Church evangelizes when, in virtue of the power of the Gospel proclaimed (cf. Rm 1:16), she takes every human experience and gives it rebirth through the death and resurrection of Jesus (cf. Rm 6:4), immersing each one in the newness of Baptism and life according to the Gospel and in the Son’s relationship to his Father, so as to feel the power of the Spirit. The transmission of the faith is the goal of evangelization which, according to the divine plan, is to bring all people through Christ to the Father in the Spirit (cf. Eph 2:18). This experience of the newness of the Gospel transforms every person. Today, we can hold to this conviction with greater surety, because history has left us extraordinary examples of courage, dedication, boldness, intuition and reason in the Church’s work of bringing the Gospel to every person, acts of holiness which are displayed in a variety of notable and significant ways on every continent. Every particular Church can boast of persons of outstanding holiness, who have been able to give renewed power and energy to the work of evangelization through their activities and, primarily, through their witness. Their example of holiness also provides prophetic and clear indications in devising new ways to live out the task of evangelization. They have repeatedly left us accounts in their writings, prayers, models and methods of teaching, spiritual journeys, journeys of initiation into the faith, works and educational institutions.
While strongly referring to the power of these examples of holiness, some responses also mention the difficulties in making these experiences contemporary and transmissible. Sometimes, it seems that these historical works not only belong to a past age, but are almost confined there, because they lack the ability to communicate the evangelical character of their witness in the present-day. The Synod is asked to discuss these difficulties and attempt to discover the underlying reasons why the activities and witness of various Church institutions lack credibility when they speak as bearers of the Gospel of God.