Week 12, Sunday. The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

DAILY SEQUENTIAL EXCERPT from The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith – Instrumentum Laboris:

This renewed dynamism in the Christian community will lead to renewed missionary activity (missio ad gentes), now more urgent than ever, given the large number of people who do not know Jesus Christ, in not only far-off countries but also those already evangelized.
By allowing themselves to be animated by the Holy Spirit, Christians will then be more attuned to their brothers and sisters who, despite being baptized, have drifted from the Church and Christian practice. The new evangelization is primarily directed to these people so that they can rediscover the beauty of their Christian faith and the joy of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus in the Church and the community of the faithful. This Instrumentum laboris treats the afore-mentioned subjects and will serve as the agenda for the upcoming synodal assembly. The document is a summary of the responses to the questions in the Lineamenta, which were submitted by the synods of bishops from the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, the episcopal conferences, the departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors General as well as other institutions and communities of the faithful, who wished to participate in the Church's reflection on the synod topic. Assisted by the Ordinary Council and the valuable contribution of experts, the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops prepared this document which describes many promising aspects of evangelization reflected in the Church on all five continents. At the same time, it proposes various topics for consideration so that the Church may continue to perform adequately her work of evangelization, while taking into account the many challenges and difficulties of the present moment. Encouraged by the Lord's words, "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me." (Jn 14:1) and clearly guided by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, the synod fathers are preparing themselves to reflect on these matters in an atmosphere of prayer, listening and affective and effective communion. They will not undertake this work alone; they will be accompanied by those continuing to pray for the synod. Looking to the communion of the Church Triumphant, the members of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly trust in the intercession of the saints, in particular the Virgin Mary, who is blessed because "she believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lk 1:45). The All-Good and Merciful God is constantly extending his hand to humanity and the Church and is always prepared to do justice for his elect, who are invited to grasp his hand and, in faith, seek his assistance. This situation should not be presupposed, as indicated by the forceful words of Jesus: "When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Lk 18:8). Therefore, at the present time, the Church and all Christians need to repeat the following prayer over and over again: "I believe, help my unbelief!" (Mk 9:24). To ensure that this synodal assembly meets these expectations and the needs of the Church in our time, we invoke the grace of the Holy Spirit, whom God "has poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour" (Titus 3:6), and again call out to the Lord Jesus, "Increase our faith!" (Lk 17:5). Instrumentum Laboris, paragraphs 7 through 11

O God, you are my God; at dawn I seek you; for you my soul is thirsting. For you my flesh is pining, like a dry, weary land without water. I have come before you in the sanctuary, to behold your strength and your glory. (Psalm 63:2-3, Morning Prayer, Liturgy of the Hours).

O God, Who raised up Saint John the Baptist
to make ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord,
give Your people, we pray
the grace of spiritual joys
and direct the hearts of all the faithful
into the way of salvation and peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

The plea of the disciples to Jesus that opened this Preface, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5), is the same plea that brings the Preface to a close and expresses a core of the New Evangelization. In doing so, the Instrumentum Laboris expresses a particular approach to “faith” that may be ‘new’ to many ‘cradle Catholics:’ “a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus in the Church and the community of the faithful.” Faith is the Gift of relational living that flows from an encounter with the Person, Jesus Christ. Faith is not some-THING that I engage when I cannot explain various dimensions of Christian teaching. Faith is not a crutch that suspends intellectual curiosity or deeper probing into the heart of Divine Life and Mystery.

  • How does “Faith” – the relationship with the Lord Jesus in the Church affect and effect daily living?
  • How might this approach to Faith alter the Church’s approach to religious formation for children and adults?
  • What are the dangers of knowing about the Lord and His Church and not encountering Him as Person?

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