Why do we proclaim the Word to those who have not heard about it?
Aren’t all the religions ways of salvation?
Won’t the speaking about Jesus and trying to convert members of other religions to Christianity bring about resentment from other religious groups?
In a country like India, should not Word Proclamation be understood in a wider perspective?
Wasn’t the salvation brought by Jesus for the entire mankind?
Some of these are the doubts and questions that have often been raised by people in connection with Proclaiming the Word. In this context, let us talk about the things that the Bible tells us in connection with the Word Proclamation.
THE PURPOSE OF THE COMING OF JESUS
Jesus came to this world with the good news for the whole world. Informing the shepherds of the birth of Jesus, the angel said, “See, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11). The coming of the Lord is meant for all. He is not the Saviour only of the Jews, but of the entire mankind. In the Gospel of Matthew we read of what this salvation consists of. “You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21).
All people are in bondage to sin. There is a necessity for all to get releases from this bondage. The entire Bible testifies to this truth and this can be clearly seen in the description given by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans. “We have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worth-less; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one”(Rom3:9 12).
The things that the apostle says commonly for all mankind are also true in the life of individuals. Those things are real in the life of each and every one of us. “I am the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not underst-and my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. …I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom7:14-25).
In his Letter to the Galatians St. Paul testifies how a person gets salvation through faith in Christ. “We know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal 2:16).
On the first Pentecost Day, St. Peter told this for all the people: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Making it clear that it is through Jesus that all the people will get salvation, St. Peter said, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The testimonies and teachings of the apostles remain the beacons for the Church.
If the Church deviates from these teachings, she won’t be true to the teachings of the apostles. Some years ago the Blessed Pope John Paul II sent out an Encyclical entitled Dominus Iesus. Through that he, as the Head of the Catholic Church, was only reiterating to the Catholics the traditional belief of the Church, standing firm in the teaching of the Bible. It was not a comparative study of religions by a social scientist or a historian. It was simply a reiteration of the traditional Catholic faith.
The Pope was only carrying out his religious responsibility by reiterating this tenet. At the same time the late Pope John Paul II was a scholar, who, accepting the findings of modern theology, constantly reminded people of the principles taught by the Second Vatican Council. In the various speeches made during his celebrated world tours, he reiterated these principles. After all, the primary mission of any Pope, obviously, is faithfully propagating the teachings of Jesus.
THE VERY WORDS OF JESUS
After his passion, suffering and death, Jesus resurrected gloriously. He had selected a few of the apostles to continue with the mission he had initiated. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Jesus had reminded the apostles the things they had to do even before his ascension into heaven. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).
By proclaiming the Word, the Church is simply carrying out the instructions that the Lord had given. The things we read in the Gospel of Matthew are repeated in the Gospel of Mark.
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15-16).
Following these instructions given by the Lord, “they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it” (Mk 16:20).
Proclaiming the Word has been something that Church has been carrying out since the time of the apostles. The Church has the right to continue with it until the Second Coming of Christ.