Preach Like the Apostles, Says Father Cantalamessa

Delivers 1st Sermon of Advent to Pontifical Household

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2005 ( How can the faithful re-evangelize a post-Christian world? By following the example of the first apostles, says the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa preached the first in a series of Advent meditations today to Benedict XVI and his aides in the Roman Curia in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

The theme for the series is «For What We Preach Is Not Ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord: Faith in Christ Today.»

Preaching, or the kerygma, said Father Cantalamessa, is what awakens faith.

The exclamation «Jesus is the Lord!» he continued, must not only resonate in evangelization, but within the Church herself.

The preacher of the Pontifical Household pointed out that in a «post-Christian» world where Jesus Christ is often absent from the lives of even people who call themselves Christians, «it is indispensable to know the way followed by the apostles to ‘evangelize’ the ‘pre-Christian’ world!»


«But what is, precisely, the object of ‘preaching?'» asked the Franciscan. «In the words of Jesus, it is the great news: ‘The kingdom of God has come to you!’

«But there is something even more concrete, the germinating nucleus of everything, the exclamation: ‘Jesus is the Lord!’ pronounced and accepted in the wonder of faith.»

To say «‘Jesus is the Lord!’ is as though saying that in Jesus, crucified and risen, the kingdom and the sovereignty of God over the world has at last been realized,» the priest said.

But, said Father Cantalamessa, it is not that after Pentecost the Apostles preached «repeating always and only: ‘Jesus is the Lord!'»

He said that when they proclaimed the faith for the first time, they went «directly to the heart of the Gospel,» announcing that Jesus died for our sins, and rose for our justification.

The Apostle Peter «does no more than repeat to those who listen to him: You killed Jesus of Nazareth; God has resurrected him, making him Lord and Christ,» he added.

More fishers

«What is most accentuated of the faith,» said Father Cantalamessa, «is not so much the initial moment, the miracle of coming to faith, but rather the fullness and orthodoxy of the contents of faith itself.»

«One is less aware of the importance of the initial choice with which one becomes a Christian,» he said, and this «situation greatly affects evangelization today.»

«We are more prepared by our past to be ‘shepherds’ than ‘fishers’ of men, … better prepared to nourish the people that come to the Church, or catch again those who have fallen away and live outside of her,» said Father Cantalamessa to the Pope and his aides.

This is how to explain that many Catholics leave the Church for «other Christian realities,» «attracted by a simple and effective announcement that puts them in direct contact with Christ and makes them experience the power of his spirit.»

From this truth stems the need to «propose the fundamental announcement clearly and sparely at least once among us, not only to the catechumens, but to all, given that the majority of today’s believers have not gone through the catechumenate,» he said.

Father Cantalamessa emphasized the role of some of the new ecclesial movements, as it is here where «adult persons at last have the occasion to hear the kerygma, to renew their own baptism, to consciously choose Christ as their own personal Lord and Savior, and commit themselves actively in the life of the Church.»

«To say ‘Jesus is the Lord!’ means to make a decision in fact,» said the preacher of the Pontifical Household. «It is as though saying: Jesus Christ is ‘my’ Lord; I recognize his full right over me, I hand the reins of my life over to him; I do not want to live any more ‘for myself,’ but ‘for him who died and rose for me.'»

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