AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Bishop Silva at CAM 5: "We have to move from an evangelization centered on argumentation to an image-centered one"

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Posted on: 07/15/18
Santa Cruz de la Sierra – There is a climate of commitment and hope at the 5th American Missionary Congress of Santa Cruz de la Sierra entitled "America in mission, the Gospel is joy". The reflection on the theme "Announcing Christ in today's world" was entrusted to Mgr. Santiago Silva, Bishop of the Castrensis and President of the Chilean Episcopal Conference. The Bishop drew lessons from the way Jesus evangelized in the Jewish world, who proposed a profound change of paradigm, and from that of Paul. These - he noted - were in the need to dialogue with another culture, the Greek-Roman one, to communicate the Gospel. Faced with a culture "of many divinities", of the cult of body and pleasure, of rank and of social influence, the apostle proposes cultural changes: honor no longer comes "from the exaltation of oneself and from being served", But "from humility and from serving"; the signifying social status is no longer based on being masters and having slaves, but on the "freedom to serve"; control over others through politics is overcome "by service and solidarity"; finally, the patriarchal family structure gives way to the "family of faith". Paul calls to abandon the cults that "do not generate life" to embrace the God who gives life.
And he proposes his testimony. "Paul succeeded: will we not succeed' Paul had the gift of the Holy Spirit: don’t we have it too' Paul faced a culture that challenged him: maybe not' Courage: we can!" Mgr. Silva told those present. The Prelate then recalled the profound transformation from pre-conciliar evangelization, centered on the Church as the only means of salvation, to a conception of the Church that is not the only possessor of the presence of Christ, who "is greater than the Church". The Church, he remarked, is "at the service of the mission".
Therefore evangelization today is "dialogue with the different realities". Today we need to "take responsibility for the humanity of the person" to present, in a culture of image, "the image of Christ in our person". "We have to move from an evangelization centered on argumentation to an image-centered one", he said. "The kerygma is an act of communication", not just verbal. This is why it is necessary that "our corporeity is evangelized" and "that we ourselves are the good news".
The Jesuit, Sergio Montes, from Bolivia, in the second conference of the day, insisted on the need for the missionaries to be "fully integrated in the social reality". "If this violent and unjust society is not part of my life, I will preach to the clouds", he said. And he called for a reflection on the preaching of the Gospel "on the continent where the greatest number of people declare themselves to be Christians while we have so much violence, inequality and poverty". Faced with a reality that at times is discouraging, he said, we can "break down walls, build bridges, reconcile, sew wounds, repair damage, if we let ourselves be inspired by the Holy Spirit" and we must build communion. We can do it, he remarked, "if we announce a Kingdom of God that begins here and now" through the proposal of the Gospel witnessed above all "with our participation in the life of the other".


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