Topic 1: Why has Christianity been rejected?
Lk 15: 3-7: “So to them, Jesus addressed this parable: ‘What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbours and says to them , ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”
Most of us would know good, intelligent, decent people and contributing members of some organization, our circle of friends, family and relatives who would not have anything to do with Christianity or the least do the minimum. Many of them were raised as Christians in one form or another somewhere and sometime in their lives. We are also beginning to discover this as an increasing phenomenon. In this context of what is happening, the scene in the parable we have read wherein one sheep was lost and the ninety-nine remain may prove to be on the reverse, that is, the ninety-nine are lost and only one is not. This is the world’s reality of Christianity.
Watching TV of events and people, hearing many things on radio, and reading newspapers and magazines, there seems to be a hunger in the people. An event on the internet can go viral in a matter of minutes. Their restlessness cannot be hidden. There is a longing for more. There is a profound discontent with life and culture. They seem to say that something is missing that no worldly pleasure can satisfy nor money can buy.
This hunger is for substance, a hunger for truth. In our age today where our whole culture seems to be based on appearance built upon illusion and deception; and everything looks good but below the surface, there is very little substance, there seems to be a great poverty of honesty, loyalty and integrity. People today are starving for the authentic and aching for the tiniest experience of sincerity. The hunger for truth and goodness is enormous and yet Christianity and particularly Catholicism have been largely rejected.
Those of us who call ourselves Christians believe that the life and teachings of Jesus Christ are the personification of truth, sincerity and authenticity. It simply the best way to live and if we are correct in this belief, and if the people of our time really are hungering for authenticity and the best way to live, then we are to ask ourselves this probing and uncomfortable questions: Why are more people not enthusiastic about embracing Christianity? Why, in fact, are so many people so hostile toward Christ and His Church?
- Do you agree with the reversed estimation in the Parable of the Lost Sheep in today’s context, that the ninety-nine are lost and only one is left in the flock of Christ?
- Can you make a listing of people – well- meaning people, good and decent people who do not find the need for God? What are they making more important than Christianity/Catholicism?
- What is the emerging question in your heart and mind about the New Evangelization with your discovery that those who are close to you are saying – “Why are they drifting away from Christianity or Catholicism?
Points of conclusion after the discussion:
- New Evangelization is about people and not about programs.
- New Evangelization is first of all a disposition of our hearts to listen and observe people and what their behaviour is saying. In this regard, this may necessitate journeying people and accepting where they are which is what Jesus did. The way to begin is our family, relatives and those close to us.
- New Evangelization is about the children of our children – will they still be Catholics? Maybe our children will still be but however their children – our grandsons and granddaughters? It is about the immediate future.