New evangelization needs new sensitivity
- Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - September 7, 2015 - 10:00am

This is the challenge we have today. How do we craft a new approach, style or strategy for the continuing need of evangelization these days? How do we keep them adapted to the new sensibilities of the men and women of today?

It's quite clear that people nowadays are a different breed from, say, those of two decades ago. In fact, given the fast pace of technological development, the fragmentation of society into different levels, sectors and niches has also accelerated. We now have to contend with a greater variety of people, not only in number but also in complicatedness.

Even within families and clans, these differences have multiplied and can be sharp and radical. Those staying or who have grown up in the States or in Europe, for example, definitely have different ways from those who remain in the province.

We can even see these sharp differences, much more than the usual, among cousins and brothers and sisters. Differences in attitudes, language, fashion, manners, reactions and opinions within relatively small circles of people have ballooned.

We need to be sensitive to these differences if we are to be effective in evangelizing. This, obviously, is an old challenge, felt right during the apostolic times and even way before that. It's going to be an abiding one. We just have to be ready for it.

For sure, the Holy Spirit continues to animate the Church and inspire certain people, giving them the relevant charism, so that the Church's vital activity of evangelization continues. But all of us have to do our part.

First, we need to sharpen and intensify our awareness of our duty to evangelize. This task involves all of us. We cannot keep on living only for our own interests. We have to be men for others. And that can happen when we go all the way to doing the task of evangelization, among many others.

Then, I suppose, we really have to master the doctrine of our faith, not only intellectually, which is already a lot, but also vitally, as in assimilating this doctrine and making it our own life, such that more than words, it is our action that speaks and that testifies to our consistent Christian life.

We need to continue making initiatives to spread the Word of God, teaching and explaining it, relating it to actual situations of different people, etc. Organizing catechism classes not only in schools and parishes, but also with the family, in the neighborhood, clubs, etc.

For this, we need to be good catechists ourselves, training others as well, and empowering them. I was saddened when in a visit to rural barangay, I learned that some women who were volunteering to be catechists could not do the job simply for lack of transportation money.

Yes, the necessary logistics and all sorts of support have to be looked into. These have to be taken care of by the relevant agencies in the parish or diocese, or simply by private organizations. If there are NGOs for the notorious population control, why not NGOs also for supporting catechists?

Still, a lot more is needed. There is now a crying need to develop in each one a certain new sensitivity to effectively engage with those who for one reason or another are difficult to relate.

There´s a lot of religious indifference around, if not ignorance, confusion and outright error that obviously can easily deteriorate to malice and hatred against religion. Still, these are souls that need to be helped.

Remember our Lord saying, "They that are well have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For I came not call the just, but sinners.¨ (Mk 2,17) He was always with the sick and the sinners.

And while he was strict with justice, he was generous also with mercy. The woman caught in adultery confirms that. He also practiced extreme delicacy in his dealings with people in the wrong side of the fence.

The story of the Samaritan woman in the well shows that.

He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah regarding his deep compassion with sinners: ¨He shall not contend, nor cry out, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. The bruised reed he shall not break, and the smoking flax he shall not extinguish.¨ (Mt 12, 19-20)

We have to continue finding ways of how to effectively deal with our brothers and sisters in varying degrees of separation from God without unnecessarily making them feel bad. That´s the challenge! We need to pray hard, study and move.

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