Homily for the Graduation from the School of Evangelisation 2008

Since the academic year you have been introduced to Jesus Christ and the work of Evangelisation.  Albert, the Director and the staff have been presenting Christ from different perspectives – Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Church, Mary, Christian Anthropology.

It is a fascinating area – the depths of which we can never hope to exhaust.  There is always a new dimension, unexpected twists and fresh insights. We are dealing with the mystery of God and God’s love for us made available and tangible in Jesus Christ.  There is always the human temptation to attempt to programme God, to make God predictable and circumscribe God.  This is a perennial temptation for people and priests who have a responsibility for evangelisation.  It is something that afflicts us as Bishops too.

Today, the First Reading from the Prophet Jonah highlights that fact.  Jonah is a very reluctant prophet.  He resents the fact that God is calling the Pagan people of Nianeveh to repent.  Jonah wants to confine God to his own country men.  God breaks out of Jonah’s narrow categories.

You are familiar with the story of how Jonah tried to evade his responsibilities for preaching to the Nianevites.  Yet God brought about his plan in spite of a reluctant and recalcitrant Jonah.

Did not something similar happen to Peter?  He tried to stop Jesus going to Jerusalem to the cross.  It was more attractive and much easier to follow a miracle worker than a crucified Messiah.  Peter had to learn the meaning and the value of the cross.  The centrality of the cross is acknowledged in the prayer and I present you with the cross.

Our culture today would be happy to accept Christ without his cross.  Remember the mockery on Calvary – “if you are the Son of God, come down from the cross, save yourself and we will believe”.  Wasn’t it a similar temptation which began the ministry of Jesus in his temptations “if you are the Son of God” and then three temptations were put before him – power, prestige, and control.

As people involved in evangelisation prayer will be an indispensable in your approach.  Without prayer you will become disillusioned, despondent and disorientated.  Prayer keeps us focused on God while enabling us to acknowledge our human weakness and sinfulness.  Prayer opens us to new possibilities, to renew creation and we remember that only God can create.

I take this opportunity to congratulate you on being available for this important work of evangelisation.  I pray God’s blessing on you and on your work for Jesus Christ.

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