Kerygma, Didache and Liturgy
Life is busy and can be very complicated. For too many of us, we can get so busy about so many things that we can easily forget or overlook the essentials. The Great Commission that Jesus gives to the Church is our primary mission statement. We are to “Go, make disciples of all nations!” Frequently, we can forget that this is the essential mission of who we are and what we are supposed to be about. To be a Catholic is to be in the disciple making business! All of us are called to preach and proclaim the saving message of Jesus Christ to everyone! The fancy word for this proclaiming the good news of Jesus is Evangelization. Euangelion is the Greek term for Good News (message, tidings) – gospel. You can also see the root for the word angel, a messenger.
The steps of Evangelization are classically divided into three: Kerygma, Didache and Liturgy. The Kerygma is the initial essential proclamation of the truth of Jesus. A simple and complete expression of this may be seen in the Creed that we profess at Mass or in the Apostles Creed that we pray with our rosary. There is one God. Jesus Christ is His only Son. Jesus was born of a woman and he suffered, died and rose from the dead. Jesus saves us from hell by the forgiveness of our sins and with the Father sent the Holy Spirit to the Church…you get the idea. Simplified, we say, “Jesus is Lord!” or, “The Kingdom of God is at hand!” The response to the Kerygma is belief.
The Kerygma is followed by the Didache. This is a further teaching on the truths proclaimed in the Kerygma. Didache means teaching. There is a famous document from the first century that is entitled, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles that also goes by the title, Didache. For all of us in our journey of discipleship and in our mission to make disciples, we have to go beyond the essential proclamation and come to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what he wants for us and from us. Every disciple is a learner, a student. To be a Christian and to bring others to Christ means that we must become the students of Jesus. We must be willing to learn from Jesus and allow him to teach us how to live. In sharing the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus, we need to help others become students (disciples) of Jesus. This is where we learn to live according to Jesus’ plan for our lives and apply what we learn. As we learn and follow Jesus, there is conversion. Conversion is not merely a moment but a lifetime.
The last step in disciple making is the Liturgy. For many of us this is the first (and only) step rather than the last step and that creates problems of its own. The liturgy in Christian tradition means “the participation of the people of God in the work of God. Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church.” (CCC 1069). Liturgy is not something we do and it is not really about us per se. It is Christ loving the Father in the Holy Spirit. For us to participate in Christ’s act of love, his prayer, his sacrifice to the Father (Liturgy), we must first hear and accept the Good News, believe and be converted (Kerygma and Didache). The liturgy is the summit of the discipleship journey and it is also a renewal of grace to continue on the journey and the mission of making new disciples. Too often people confuse liturgy with entertainment. They want to “get something” from the liturgy, when in fact the liturgy is primarily about giving to God with Jesus in the Holy Spirit. The simple truth is that if we don’t come ready to give ourselves and to join our lives in sacrifice with Jesus’ sacrifice, then we fail. The purpose of following Jesus is to join him in loving and glorifying the Father for all eternity. Coming to Mass to be entertained or merely to get something, even something good, is to miss out on something greater.
We are to go and make disciples for nothing less than to give glory to God! When we glorify God, we begin to share in his divine glory!
In pace Christi,