Sharing the Gospel of Jesus

In his Second letter to Timothy, Saint Paul urges Christians to “preach the message (the Gospel), welcome or unwelcome … in season and out of season.”i 

This is the basic task or mission of the Church and of every member of the Church: to preach the Gospel. If you’re not mad on that word ‘preach’ and don’t think preaching is for you, then you can change it for another verb, but the basic task remains the same: to share, to teach, to spread, or to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said and did many things, but in a nutshell, his Gospel - his Good News – is that God loves us so much that he gave us his only Son; that God wants us to be happy in this life and in eternity; so, he calls us to conversion, to turn away from sin and believe in Him. It’s no wonder the Gospel is called the Good News! It’s very good news!

Those who come to believe in Jesus Christ and live by his Gospel have found a real treasure and a real peace in their life, even if they also have those trials and difficulties which are part of every person’s life. Jesus does not want us to keep this treasure to ourselves. He calls us to share it with others, and thus the urgency for all believers to ‘preach’ the Gospel in whatever way is most suitable to each of us. How I preach the Gospel as a Bishop is quite different to how you preach it as a mum, an office worker, a football player, or whatever and whoever you are.

But there are a couple of things that apply to us all, as identified by Saint Pope Paul VI back in 1975 when the Church was thinking a lot about how to proclaim the Gospel in the modern world. His words are still apt today. The first: “Above all” he says, “the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness.”ii

He goes on, and I paraphrase slightly, “Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their own community, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing of life and destiny with other people, their solidarity, and who also radiate in a simple and unaffected way their faith and hope. Through this wordless witness they stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live.” He concludes, “people listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if they do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”iii

Nevertheless, words are also needed, and this is his second point. He says, “There is no true evangelization” (which simply means spreading the Gospel), “if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed.”iv

In our secular society in which there is also at times an anti-religious climate, it is tempting to not speak up about our faith. So, we must remember that the name of Jesus carries tremendous power. Whenever we speak his name with faith and love it will have an effect. So, I encourage all believers to not be afraid to say the name of Jesus and to tell people of your faith in him and his effect on your life. Your simple ‘nonpreachy’ words combined with your witness is the most effective way the Gospel of Jesus is spread.

Saint Paul exhorted us to preach the Gospel “in season and out of season”. It’s fair to say that because of our monumental fault and failings in the protection of children and vulnerable people, the Church has been “out of season” for some time. It is therefore heartening that the 98% result from the recent rigorous and independent safeguarding audit of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle demonstrates that we have done our best to try and right past wrongs and are well on the way to a new and better safeguarding culture.

Nevertheless, our Church and Diocese have been greatly humbled by our failings. We have been torn down from our mountain, which is not such a bad thing. From the mountaintop we had to shout to be heard. But from the plain, where people live, work, and play, our quiet voices can be more easily heard, understood, and accepted by others.

And so, I have great hope for our humbled Church, poised to share the Gospel of Jesus with all – each of us with our own voice.

i 2 Timothy 4:2

ii Saint Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi    (Proclaiming the Gospel), 1975, Paragraph 21

iii Ibid Paragraph 41

iv Ibid Paragraph 22

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Bishop Michael Kennedy

Bishop Michael Kennedy is the ninth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. 

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