“Every person has the right to hear the gospel.” —St. Paul
Ronald D. Witherup makes two points about St. Paul’s bold statement to the Christians in Corinth:
- If hearing the gospel is a right, we have a responsibility. Not only should governments or institutions not impede evangelization; Christians cannot shirk their responsibility to evangelize.
- The gospel is also a gift. But it is a gift with a string attached. The one demand is that we share the gift with others.
We’re all sinners
Witherup goes on to explain why St. Paul is adamant about this right to hear the gospel. First, he says that Paul believes we are all the same. There aren’t good people and bad people.
- We are all sinners. Period.
- And we are all saved by Christ. Period.
Not everyone realizes that, however, and they have a right to know. And we have duty to let them know.
We’re all in this together
Next, he points out that St. Paul says we are all part of one body. We cannot fail to save the “foot” or the “arm” and think there will be no consequence to us. We’re all in this together. If one suffers, we all suffer.
God knows when you are sleeping
And finally, God is keeping score. St. Paul wrote to the Galatians:
Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.(6:7-10)
The first rule
One thing new RCIA team members tend to focus on is the “rules.” What do we have to make sure the catechumens know? All you have to do is try to pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church with one hand to get the impression there are a lot of rules. But what St. Paul teaches—and what Pope Francis is remind us of—is that there is a hierarchy to the truths of our faith. Some things are just more important than others.
And the thing that’s most important? According to St. Paul, it’s sharing the Gospel with those who have a right to hear it.
As we examine and plan for our catechumenate processes, we have to hold ourselves to this standard. Are we training the catechumens to share the gospel with those who have a right to hear it? And are we doing that mostly be way of example?
- Am I good example?
- Is the RCIA team a good example?
- Is the parish as a whole a good example?
What your RCIA process like?
Is your team training the catechumens to share the gospel? How are you doing that? And how are you assessing your effectiveness? Please share you thoughts in the comments box below.
(For more on how St. Paul understands evangelization, see Saint Paul and the New Evangelization, Ronald D. Witherup, The Liturgical Press.)