ARCHBISHOP John Bathersby’s missionary challenge (“Call to live mission”, CL 5/3/06) is in one sense not new, but in another sense it is radical.
A Protestant friend once said that Catholics are different from other Christians in that they always let you know they are Catholics.
We have to admit that the archbishop’s call to be a missioner is radically different from the cultural Catholicism that was the foundation of the character of Catholic practice encountered by my friend.
Historically, Christianity expanded on the back of colonisation and its message survived because the major part of Catholic life has been pastoral rather than missionary.
Catholic clergy came from a cultural milieu which they in turn shepherded through liturgy and schools and hospitals.
The Gospel message needs to be unburdened from its cultural milieu.
“Desire” for conversion must replace culture and consumption.
This is a radically new challenge!
The inner dynamic of mutual love that is the Trinity must speak to a world alienated from itself and pessimistic about such love.
Pope Benedict XVI distinguishes the Christian meaning of “Person” from the modern meaning of “Self”.
The mask that an actor in Greek theatre used to mediate a character became the forerunner of the use of Christian meaning of “Person”.
In the Trinity, a “Person” signifies someone who allows another to live through him.
French anthropologist Rene Girard has shown that cultural life opposes autonomy.
We are wired to imitate one another. Either we must imitate one another in love or we will imitate in violence as we all seek to satisfy out mimetic desires out of scarce resources.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent encyclical, recalled that Christianity was born out of an experience of a person rather than an encounter with a mere idea. Lent is a time “to be still and know that I am God”.
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