Saturday 13 June 2015

Two extremes in our attitudes towards evangelization: "Hit them on the head" and "don't say anything that will disturb, that will be seen as an imposition, that is 'ours'." The former is the temptation or the practice of all the radical, 'fundamentalist' groups inside and outside the church. I admire their courage and their clarity; I abhor their lack of respect for people, and their, in general, lack of sensitivity. I don't find that very Jesus-like. The latter is the temptation with perhaps remote roots or not-so-remote influences of New Age and liberal theological tendencies, and perhaps a recurrent Salesian temptation in the last few decades. There must be a saner attitude, neither one nor the other extreme. Jesus is extremely clear about his identity, and will not budge: "Will you also go away?" Yet he is also extremely respectful. I can't identify him with gospel-thumping fire-and-brimstone preachers. It is above all the beauty of his person, the splendour of his being that reaches out and touches, attracts, fascinates, and sometimes also repels. Not everyone was taken up with him.

This is very Salesian: we were not born to be fundamentalist, even if there are others within the church who might be more radical, more clear, more towards the gospel-thumping right, and more more today, visible, attractive to large swathes of people, 'successful', because of clarity, visibility, identity. Ours is a different approach. But it cannot be any less radical in its driving passion; otherwise we are lost. 

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