Week 21, Saturday. Evangelizing Thought of the Day (ETD)

“And they devoted (προσκαρτεροῦντες, proskarterountes) themselves to the Apostles’ teaching (τῇ διδαχῇ τῶν ἀποστόλων, te didache ton apostolon) and fellowship (καὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ, te koinonia), to the breaking of bread (τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου, te klasei tou artou) and the prayers (ταῖς προσευχαῖς, proseuchais).
And day by day, attending (προσκαρτεροῦντες, proskarterountes) the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook (μετελάμβανον, metelambanon) of food with glad and generous hearts (ἀγαλλιάσει καὶ ἀφελότητι καρδίας, agalliasei kai apheloteti kardias) and praising God (αἰνοῦντες τὸν θεὸν, ainountes ton Theon) and having favor (χάριν, charin) with all the people. And the Lord added (προσετίθει, prosetithei) to their number day by day those who were being saved (σῳζομένους, sozomenous) (Acts 2:42, 46-47).”

Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. (Psalm 33:12, Mass).

O God,
Who cause the minds of the faithful
to unite in a single purpose,
grant your people to love what you command and
to desire what you promise, that,
amid the uncertainties of this world,
our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.
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.

To round out the first action of the newly baptized, we saw earlier that “they devoted themselves to “the … teaching (τῇ διδαχῇ, te didache).” Previously, we examined the critical distinction between teaching that is kerygma and teaching that is didache. The task now is to ask, “Who is ‘doing’ the didache?”
(By way of reminder, we are looking at these verses from the Acts of the Apostles because they open Chapter 3 of the Imstrumentum Laboris.)
The Acts of the Apostles notes the uniqueness of this teaching (didache) as “the teaching of the apostles.” Earlier in Acts, we learn how the infant community understood apostles in light of the need to choose a successor to Judas. “Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied (συνελθόντων, sunelthonton) us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become (γενέσθαι, genesthai) with us a witness to his resurrection (μάρτυρα τῆς ἀναστάσεως, martura tes anastaseos).”
Among the many who followed Jesus, He called 12 and ‘sent them out.’ Apostle, in this sense, is more about an action flowing from a call, flowing from a word. The ‘sent out’ is what uniquely constitutes those Jesus chose, in other words, mission is at the heart of one constituted an apostle. Peter knew this and it is why he saw as 1 requirement for Judas’ successor that one “accompanied (συνελθόντων, sunelthonton) us.” As part of a large family of Greek verbs meaning “to go” and “to come,” συνέρχομαι (sunerchomai) conveys a more precise meaning of “being with another on a journey,” a meaning with obvious missionary overtones. Yet elsewhere in the Letters of the New Testament, συνέρχομαι suggests “a journey” that brings all together at the Lord’s Supper, a usage that clearly points in the direction of unity and Eucharist. Hence the “teaching of the apostles” is not about filling the heads of the newly baptized with more data about Jesus and the new life they have been plunged into through Baptism. Apostolic didache is way of unpacking the encounter with Jesus (kerygma) in such a way that the newly baptized is impelled to ‘go out on Mission’ and ‘to journey to the Lord’s Supper’ and build up the Body of Christ in unity. The ‘giving’ of teaching is not to master facts – the teaching (didache) is given that it will be taken out into the world.
This obviously raises many questions, once again, about how we as a Church go about the work of Catholic education (actually, I believe we need to drop the phrase ‘Catholic education’ and use the Biblical and Liturgical language of catechesis and formation). There are certainly many who have been formed and are doing the work of the Lord in the world. Yet it seems there are far more who have approached ‘Catholic education’ as a means to an end that has little to do with the Person Jesus and the mission He commends to each person.

  • While there is certainly individual responsibility, do we as a Church have to examine how we catechize?
  • In your experience, are elements of formation and mission essential and expected aspects of catechesis?

1 comment:

  1. 1. If only 40% of the 20% who regularly attend Mass on Sunday and believe in the Real Presence (Encounter) with Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist, it's a no brainer that the Church needs to examine how it catechizes.

    2. Formation and mission were essential elements of Jesus proclamation of the Kingdom. He showed us how to catechize. Why would we think we can dispense with what was essential to Jesus. The encounter of the Samaritan Woman with Jesus was not just for her but in time was for the entire village. The world we live in may be light years away from the beginnings of humanities encounter with the person Jesus but humanity is today, just as much as then, in need of a Savior. Jesus, who still dwells and walks among us, is our Savior and Master of forming and sending disciples. Genuine disciples will do no less than their Master.