By: Deacon Marques Silva
It is by no coincidence that Bishop Loverde released his new Pastoral Letter (Go Forth With Hearts On Fire: A Pastoral Letter on the New Evangelization) on the Solemnity of Christ the King and the last day of the Year of Faith. Since we have spent the past year reflecting upon the faith, he has provided us with the “next steps” to appropriate and propagate the graces our Lord has shared with us and desires to share with all whom we meet.
What we may not know is how providential and appropriate it is for a letter on evangelism to send us forth to proclaim the good news. What do I mean? Well, we need to understand the role of evangelist a little more.
Scripture scholars tell us that the Gospel of Mark was written shortly after Sts. Peter and Paul were martyred under the reign of Caesar Augustus. St. Mark begins his gospel with these words,
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)
Simple enough, right? Not so much. As my Irish grandfather used to say, “Them are fighting words!”
In the ancient world, the emperor would send out four heralds to announce the euaggelion or good news of an imperial victory. Those four evangelists would go to the four corners of the empire to ensure that the emperor’s victory and name was firmly established and known. Add to this the fact Augustus Caesar was known as the “son of god” since Julius Caesar was declared a god after his death, and August was his adopted son. “Son of god” became an imperial title.
Knowing this, we may now see that St. Mark (one of the four evangelists) was, well, picking a fight. He starts off saying that HE is an evangelist and has come to announce the imperial victory of Jesus over sin and death. Not only that, by calling Jesus the Christ, St. Mark was committing treason by supplanting Caesar Augustus and declaring that Jesus is the true Son of God.
And so we come to Bishop Loverde’s Pastoral Letter on Evangelism. This Sunday, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, he is asking us like the four evangelists to announce the good news that Jesus the Christ has conquered sin and death and is establishing his Kingdom even as we read this blog.
So, Arlington, go be subversive. Tell the world who the true Lord is and demonstrate it through tender mercy and heartfelt love. Why? C.S. Lewis said it best in Mere Christianity when he wrote:
“Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
Long live Christ the King!