Umbrellas will become the thing of fashion as the weather turns rainier. It is not as if umbrellas are new, or an unfamiliar site throughout the year; but from being an occasional necessity, they become a frequent accessory. For proclaimers of the Gospel, who share the Good News throughout the year as well as at particular events or on special occasions, an umbrella is perhaps a useful image to keep in mind when undertaking the range of practical tasks that make proclaiming Jesus Christ a reality.
At the heart of evangelisation – sharing the ‘Good News’, is the first proclamation, the ‘kerygma’, which Pope Francis highlights in Evangelii Gaudium ‘Joy of the Gospel’: ‘the first proclamation must ring out over and over: “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.”. He also points out that as people grow in Faith, there needs to be an ‘integration of every dimension of the person within a communal journey of hearing and response’. In other words, our knowing Jesus Christ affects us as a complete person – mind, body and soul; and our hearing the Good News , we are to responded through all these dimensions, and as part of that fellowship which is the Church, whether it is our family, the parish, the school or other community. Our response then, is a constant learning about the love that God has for us, and using our whole self to love God and our neighbour ever more deeply.
This integrated approach can be compared to an umbrella, a ‘Proclaim Umbrella’, which has many sides but is always one whole. To proclaim, in words and actions, may involve speaking about Jesus to an interested group one day, while the next day is spent deepening one’s own faith perhaps through a bible study group. It may be that in the morning you are helping an elderly person with their personal care; and in the evening saying night-time prayers with your children as you tuck them into bed. And on Sunday, as part of a living faith community, our parish, we come to worship God at Mass, to which we bring all those Proclaim aspects to the Father through Jesus Christ. And from the Mass, enriched by the Eucharist and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, we go out once again as ‘missionary disciples’ to the world that needs to hear us proclaim the Good News. In November, when we particularly pray for those who have gone before us in life, there will be those who are bereaved waiting for someone - you and me – to reach out, to offer consolation, to share friendship, and a new hope through a renewed faith. It may be that you could set up a bereavement group in your parish. The Art of Dying website http://www.artofdyingwell.org/ provides a range of resources to help in reaching out to those who have been bereaved.
All these aspects of our mission make up ‘Proclaim Umbrella’: Prayer and worship, Marriage & Family Life and Community, Faith Formation & Catechesis, Caritas and Ministry, Evangelisation and Reaching Out. Each ‘side’ of the ‘Proclaim Umbrella’ has its place and supports the others, and together, filled with the Holy Spirit we can reach out in to world – whatever the weather!
Deacon Adrian Cullen