Jesus’ Prophetic Mission

After Jesus struggled with Satan in the wilderness, he returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit and taught in the synagogues. “He stood up to read the Scriptures and was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.’ Then Jesus said to them: ‘This passage of Scripture has come true today, as you heard it being read.’” Luke 4:16ff. In this way, Jesus began to fulfill his prophetic mission of announcing the Good News.

The passage from Luke gives us two sources for knowing what the Holy Spirit worked in Jesus at the inauguration of his evangelizing mission. First, what the Gospels themselves say of Jesus. Second, what the prophets foretold about the relationship between the Spirit of God and the Messiah, which here Jesus applies to himself, namely,   that the Spirit would be conferred on the Messiah especially in the work of evangeliz-ation. Note: Pope Paul Vl states that the Spirit is the principal agent in evangelization.

Kerygmatic Jesus. We read in Luke’s account that all the people in the synagogue had their eyes fixed on Jesus. Can you imagine their astonishment? This carpenter whom they had seen grow up in their hick town of Nazareth. They had to ask themselves: What had transformed him into God’s prophet? The only answer is that the Spirit had called forth Jesus’ radical faith, hope and love which transformed him into a kerygmatic evangelist. The word “kerygmatic” (pronounced ker-ig-‘mat-ik) means “proclaim” such as is the function of a herald or an official messenger. But with Jesus there was a big difference. For him there was the inner dynamic process of radical faith, hope and love working inside him (prompted by the Spirit) that erupted into kerygmatic evangelism.

The Spirit does not give Jesus the word to preach, for Jesus is himself the Word of God, but the Spirit gives force to his word by conferring authority and efficacy on it. “Never before has anyone spoken like this one.” Jn 7:46. Above all, the Spirit gives Jesus the strength not to become discouraged in his moments of failure, conflict and rejection.

Kerymatic Church. Note that kerygma or proclamation of the Good News is uniquely important in the evangelization process, for like Jesus, kerygmatic evangelism flows out from the depths of our radical faith, hope and love. The result? It arouses faith! Unfortunately, the Church has divided the Good News into two components, according to Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa: one, proclamation of what God has done in Jesus which is truly the gospel; and second, the teaching that stresses completeness and orthodoxy of the content of the faith itself. The teaching tends to form and support faith, but it is kerygma that arouses faith. Fr. Cantalamessa states that the Church must return to the early Church’s emphasis on kerygma and the miracle of coming to the faith.

Kerygmatic Cursillistas. For Cursillistas, kerygma is the key to everything—message, method, style, witness and commitment, according to The Fundamental Ideas of the Cursillo Movement, page 105ff. The message is the proclamation of Jesus the Savior and the gifting of the Spirit. The method is to ignite desire for conversion of principles, behavior, whole life. The style is joyful, deep, heartfelt, lived conviction. The commitment is in giving witness that our proclamation is carried out by testimony of our lives. Lives that are the radiation of radical faith, hope and love!

At its beginning, Cursillo created excitement with its kerygmatic evangelism that invited people to conversion. We must recapture that original kerygmatic evangelism.