Jonah, John, Jesus, and we the 21st century Catholics
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 36:26
Well, lets say first of all that Jonah didn’t have much good news to proclaim. Nothing like the proclamations of Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the other early Apostles and the Church today explaining about the Love of God and the Resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit with gifts. All Jonah had to say was, “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed!” I guess the people realized that it was a call for repentance (changing their ways) and they did so, maybe out of fear and guilt, and the city was not destroyed. It was probably a temporary thing since they didn’t get “new hearts” and “new spirits.”
John the Baptist had pretty much the same message as Jonah, Repent!, except that he also explained that better things were on the way in the person of Jesus Christ in whom all those misunderstood promises of the OT, including “new hearts” and “new spirits,” would be fulfilled. The Messiah was coming, but not exactly as expected. Then John looked up, and there was Jesus.
The New Evangelization
Here is what the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Website has to say about The New Evangelization:
Yes, it’s complicated. It makes me wonder what would happen if the Catholic Churches the city joined in a year-long RCIA course inviting all who are interested to come under no obligation and at no cost. That would truly be a proclamation of the Gospel as understood by the Catholic Church. What if 200 or 300 people signed up? Would we be up to the task? Would we welcome all or would we deem some not really worthy or not truly interested? What if, as a result, fifty new people wanted to be received into St. Peter’s Catholic Church? Would we welcome them with open arms or with suspicion? How would we handle the Easter Vigil?
Well, I’m just thinking out loud and, as a result, wrote up a little advertisement. I doubt we would have many faithful Presbyterians or Baptists or Lutherans or Methodists showing up. I doubt we would have many community leaders or successful business people. But we might have a few of those showing up along with lots of down and out and discouraged folks looking for something. Is the Catholic Faith too complicated for such persons.
OK, I know it is out-of-the-box thinking (but maybe worthy of consideration.) What great fun and value there would be in putting together the course which could be the very best RCIA course taught in the US Catholic Church.