What’s wrong with the ‘Gospel of Me’?

By Marlon De La Torre

Director of Catechesis

North Texas Catholic

4/19/2016

There is a significant aspect to Holy Week and in particular the Holy Triduum that draws us away from ourselves. This is done in order to see the transparent reality of what Christ actually did to resuscitate our souls to Him. Instead of acting on a prideful desire to be heard by everyone because we believe we have something important to say, the Triduum asks us to relinquish this desire and instead listen to Him. Our self-distorted human nature to communicate our desires and wants collide with the Paschal Mystery. 

The temptation with pronouncing our own Gospel message reflects a natural inclination to redefine basic truths in order to justify our position even though we may recognize it’s wrong to do so. St. Paul echoed this similar position in Rome (Romans 7:11-25), telling the crowd that he knows the very thing he should not do but does it anyway. This example reflects the daily temptation we profess in the “Gospel of Me” versus the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

The Premise of the Gospel (Kerygma)
The Catechism defines the term Gospel as the good news of God’s mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and Resurrection of Christ. If we take the time to analyze this basic premise of the Gospel it’s a proclamation of the Paschal Mystery intimately connecting the saving reality of Christ directed toward humanity. At the center of the Gospel is the Incarnational reality of God becoming man fully revealed in his only-begotten son Jesus Christ. This means that a significant premise of the Gospel is its sacrificial nature accomplished with Jesus’ death on the Cross.

This redemptive reality is not a fabrication of an event to simply justify proclaiming a Gospel for one’s own liking and prerogative. The redemptive reality spoken of is the Church instituted by Christ to continue the salvific realities of what He handed down to the Apostles (Matthew 16:16-19; Acts 2:37-42). When we speak of the Gospel we also mean the articulation and announcement of the Kerygma. The reality of the Kerygma is that it is a message of salvation aimed at fostering a deep penetrating conversion where our evangelistic efforts may bear fruit and thus provide an opportunity for effective catechetical instruction. The Kerygma offers us an opportunity to profess a universal message (Jesus Christ crucified) in order that we may awaken from our own spiritual slumber and emphatically embrace the message of Christ.

What is the Gospel of Me?
In a simple way the Gospel of Me reflects an attitude of “myself first, others second.” It’s a demonstrative way of affirming one’s own righteousness at the expense of others, especially Christ Himself. Another way to look at the Gospel of Me is its disassociation with a “Poverty of Heart” described in the Catechism (2544)

Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer Him to everything and everyone, and bids them “renounce all that they have” for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his Passion He gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Alone in your own world  
A poverty of heart opens the door to our ability to take part in the Christ’s Passion by dying to sin and in his Resurrection being born to new life (CCC 1988). The proclamation of the Gospel is for everyone, and because of this very fact offers everyone the opportunity to embrace the Paschal sacrifice and restore us to communion with our Lord (CCC 613). 

The purpose of our missionary mandate is to bring everyone into communion with Jesus Christ. Our evangelistic efforts are directed toward this first initiative of our faith because it is intimately connected to our baptismal call. Thus when faced with the temptation to preach the Gospel of Me, we really need to ask ourselves; who would want to hear it? The reality of the Gospel of Me is a very lonely road where all you hear is yourself and not the sounds of people walking aimlessly around you waiting for someone to introduce them to Jesus Christ. If the premise of Catechesis is to re-echo Christ, then the premise of the Gospel is to introduce Christ, and this is precisely what the Kerygma does.  

Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ. Their activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it. (CCC 900)

Easter offers us a significant opportunity to turn away from the Gospel of Me and instead profess the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why you cannot get to the Resurrection without first going through the Crucifixion. At the heart of our missionary journey is Jesus Christ crucified, which means exercising our Incarnational character to faithfully live out the Gospel and be stewards of faith for the sake of the Kingdom which is the whole premise of the Resurrection. 

There is a significant aspect to Holy Week and in particular the Holy Triduum that draws us away from ourselves. This is done in order to see the transparent reality of what Christ actually did to resuscitate our souls to Him. Instead of acting on a prideful desire to be heard by everyone because we believe we have something important to say, the Triduum asks us to relinquish this desire and instead listen to Him. Our self-distorted human nature to communicate our desires and wants collide with the Paschal Mystery. 

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