Recently, Scot Hahn wrote for America Magazine regarding Mass Evangelization, suggesting that the new pope’s outreach is an embodiment of the new evangelization. In the article he identifies how:
> Paul VI identified evangelization as a matter of primary importance. He lived up to his namesake travelling to all the continents. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize…. (Evangelii Nuntiandi)
> John Paul II made evangelization a matter of urgency, stepping up Papal travels, creating World Youth Day. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church, can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples. Redemptoris Missio
> Benedict XVI built upon all of the above and offered structure with a Vatican dicastery to oversee the new evangelization, and a reminder that it was not only about them, but us as well. Many of our brothers and sisters are ‘baptized, but insufficiently evangelized.’ Verbum Domini
Hahn goes on to suggest that perhaps Francis might build upon a theme that Cardinal George suggested years ago…”All evangelizers proclaim who Christ is; Catholic evangelizers proclaim a Eucharistic Christ.” A Christ who referred to his Good Friday sacrifice in a Holy Thursday meal. calling “the new covenant” and commanded “Do this in remembrance of me.” Holy Thursday is what transformed Good Friday from an execution into a sacrifice, and Easter Sunday is what transformed the sacrifice into a sacrament.
A Eucharist-centered evangelization not only recognizes the promise, sacrifice, and sacrament in the Body of Christ but also is capable of perceiving the Body of Christ within the recipient, the image of God that is capable of reflecting Christ, the perfect Imago Dei. Zenit recently shared this story, told by Luis Montesano, a fourth-year seminarian in Buenos Aires, of how Cardinal Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) and how this sensibility regarding the Eucharistic Christ might reflect his contribution to New Evangelization.
I was working with the “Night of Charity” of a Buenos Aires parish, the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The “Night of Charity” is an activity carried out in Buenos Aires, in which each parish goes out once a week to distribute food to individuals who live on the street, and primarily to take Christ to them. Bergoglio was always clear about the order of activities: first Eucharistic Adoration, then go out to meet Christ who is in the poor who live on the streets, to give them something to eat, to engage in conversation with them, which enables us to take Christ to those persons. On one occasion we wanted to enlarge the parish radius of the “Night of Charity,” to reach more people. Through the parish priest, Cardinal Bergoglio said to us: “Don’t be hasty. This isn’t fast food, but the order is Christ first, then Christ, and finally Christ.” (That is, Christ in Eucharistic Adoration, Christ in the poor, and taking Christ to the poor). I think Pope Francis will be concerned especially with the poorest, to take Christ to them. In some way, for Cardinal Bergoglio the periphery of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires was the center. Now I think that for Pope Francis, the center of the Church will be in the periphery, at the extremities, where few reach.
How can we reach the periphery of our Church who are baptized, yet still in need of evangelization? How can we bring Christ to those who are the poorest in need of the richness of life in Christ sustained by the Eucharist?