“Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 2013, (EG) 164)
Many have not heard of the word kerygma, a term which is being used more widely within the Catholic Church in recent years. The revival of the word is due to a reminder that we need an ongoing focus on Jesus.
The term kerygma is a Greek word meaning proclamation and is the initial and necessary proclamation of the Gospel to awaken faith. “Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation” (EG 165) which proclaims the essential message of God who loves us, Christ who died for us and the part we play in the story of salvation.
The Kerygma in 5 Steps
- God is love and I have been created to be in relationship with him
- Sin separates me from God and through sin my relationship is damaged
- My relationship with God is restored through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
- Jesus invites me to turn from sin, repent and make him the centre of my life
- I receive the Holy Spirit and take Christ to others
God is love, and desires to be close to us and in relationship with us. Understanding the type of love God has for us is key. In society we find the word ‘love’ is used loosely – I love coffee, I love ice-cream. We better understand God’s love when we think of the love we share with our closest family. We have been made in the image and likeness of God and have been created to be in relationship with him, daily and continually. God is always there, waiting for us to engage and offering us unconditional love. How do you foster a relationship with God, who loves you and desires a relationship with you?
Through our earthly relationships we find ourselves in situations where we grow and learn more about ourselves, and our relationships keep us accountable and help us achieve more. At times these relationships pose challenges, and at times our conduct or responses to situations are poor and can cause hurt to others. This affects the relationship, where we need to work toward reconciling the issue and rectifying the situation. Sometimes the relationship recovers and other times there can be such damage that it is irreparable. Our relationship with God mirrors this relationship to some degree. The hurt that we cause to God by our sin damages our relationship and we become separated from him. What are some choices you are making that may be keeping you separated from God?
One of the major differences between our earthly relationships and our relationship with God is that no matter how separated we choose to become from God, the relationship is never irreparable. This is not due to anything we might do or could do, but because God sent his only Son Jesus and through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection our relationship has been restored. We have been ‘saved from’ what can be destructive and oppressive in our lives, and we have been ‘saved to’ live in the freedom that a life with God gives us, which ultimately leads to a share in eternal life. Did you know that Jesus loves you so much, that if you were the only person in the entire world, he would have still made the ultimate sacrifice and died for you?
Accepting the love and plan which is given to us freely gives us a freedom marked by joy and encouragement (EG 165) and we are called to respond. We can only accept the Good News on offer to us by repenting and turning away from sin. We do this through an intentional reorientation of our lives, choosing to try and live in the way that was intended for us and that which we were created for. However, this does not mean we won’t fall and sin again. God is merciful and his unconditional love always allows us to ask for forgiveness and gives us the opportunity to try again and do better. The choice to make Jesus the centre of our lives is a continued decision we make each day. What obstacles can you identify in your life that are blocking you from trusting and surrendering your life to Jesus?
When Jesus ascended into heaven he gave the promise that he would send the Holy Spirit to be with us always, guiding and protecting us. The Spirit helps us live in the world with the knowledge that we live in Christ. It is the Spirit that gives us the courage to take Jesus out to others; as Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 8). This is what we are called to do. Why is it that we have no trouble sharing with others a good restaurant we have found, or a great movie we have watched, but somehow fall short of sharing with them the life-giving Good News which we are privy to. Have you sensed the Holy Spirit accompanying you, and calling you to share the Good News with others?
The kerygma, the core message of the gospel, is a message for each person to hear and receive. A response to this initial proclamation may not happen immediately as the kerygmatic message may need to be heard many times to take hold of our hearts, minds and lives. Even so, our God who offers us unconditional, merciful love and eternal life patiently waits for us, always inviting us to a freeing, life giving relationship with him.
- Share the kerygma with one person you know who needs to hear this Good News
- Pray that the Holy Spirit opens the hearts of those who hear the kerygma
Tania Rimac is the Resource Coordinator, Catholic Life & Faith Formation for the Diocese of Broken Bay.
This article was originally published in the August 2019 (Issue No. 201) edition of the Broken Bay News.