Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30
The Gospel speaks to the "New Evangelization" as the apostles are sent out on their mission to spread God’s Word to all people. One verse that has always struck a chord in me as a missionary is "Be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves."
We must be wise about the culture we live in. We must be shrewd and crafty about how we proclaim the Gospel effectively in this day and age. We must understand exactly to whom we are talking. Often I will be in a parish preaching the "Call to the Mission" at the weekend Masses. This is the important homily that invites people to return and participate in the parish mission on Monday – Wednesday. Usually the final Mass of the four or five that weekend occurs on Sunday night and is often known as a "Life Teen Mass." I know from experience that the Mass will be attended by many teenagers, so I slightly change my stories to make them applicable to their lives. I call this "Youth-enizing" my homily.
We live in the midst of a sports culture. Many men and women spend hours watching sports on TV or in person each weekend. Sports are the great idol of American society. The reason why I wrote a book titled Golf and God isn’t simply because I like golf. Golf (sports) is the medium, the language, through which I present the Gospel (softly and clearly – like a dove) in the midst of a culture saturated with sporting activities. I’ve had numerous requests to write a book such as "Fishing and God." Perhaps as a sequel?
My books are unique because I have them printed with larger print. I move the margins away from the center and more toward the left and right edges to make them easier for older people to read. I know my clientele. I purposely use stories and easy-to-understand personal experiences the reader can relate to. I present the Gospel clearly, but in a way people can receive the message. As my editor says, "Your books are easy-to-read but are not an-easy-read."
Whether we proclaim the Gospel through writing, preaching, media, our presence, or by simple example, we must be familiar with our culture and the people we are sent to minister to. As the family of Passionists, Jesus has sent us to be effective missionaries and to bring the saving Gospel to all: elderly, youth, faithful, and fallen-away. As the Church considers "The New Evangelization" afresh, the words of Jesus echo true: "Be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves."
Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P. is a missionary preacher, author of 16 books and creator of the TV program Live with Passion! airing in many cities. You can learn more about his ministry at: http://www.frcedric.org/