The Necessity of Contemplating the Kerygma

October 16, 2023

When people gather to discuss the will of God in their lives, it is important to ask how we can become a partaker in God's divine nature. In his second epistle, St. Peter articulates this point about the responsibility of every Christian to conform our will to Jesus Christ. He lays out the following approach that visibly contradicts what I argue with the development of a certain synodal mindset of today:

For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The synodal mindset I reference places greater emphasis on the acquiescence of the human condition where the Word of God is at the service of man rather than man at the service of Divine Revelation. Hence, when we encounter the Word of God our immediate response should be in faith in God’s Divine communication not in how Christ’s message aligns with our priorities. From a related perspective, the human experience-orthopraxis which places greater emphasis on the human experience over belief in Christian doctrine-orthodoxy serves as a related mechanism in the preference of human behavior over belief in Jesus Christ and [1]His Church.

This entire drama directs us toward the necessity of developing a proper understanding of the kerygma as an important entryway toward understanding our relationship with Jesus Christ. By definition, kerygma is defined as the “Good News” of Jesus Christ and his message of salvation for all who choose to follow him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. “The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God.[2]

The necessity to contemplate the kerygma as revealed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church serves as a reminder of our call to conversion away from the perils of the world and instead focus on our active relationship with Jesus Christ. It implies the need to ascetically contemplate Christ’s salvific message as part of our identity as disciples of Jesus Christ. Again, I turn to the wisdom of the Catechism on the necessity to contemplate the kerygma:

Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ. Their activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it.[3]

The act of contemplation in association with the kerygma strengthens our ability to focus on the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ as revealed in Sacred Scripture. This important practice of kerygmatic contemplation serves as a proper means I argue to engage in any synodal community of faith to ensure that the message proclaimed comes from the Word of God and not from personal religious whims.

Contemplating the kerygma places a deference to God’s Word and actively helps us seek the guidance of Christ to strengthen our daily journey with Him. It places greater emphasis on our love for Him rather than our socially and morally misplaced desires. In his second letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul provides us with a structure on how to contemplate kerygma and develop a proper synodal mindset:

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

 

[1] 2 Pet 4:1-11

[2] CCC 2044

[3] CCC 900

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