The phrase started rattling around in various European languages a few centuries back. Hudson Taylor, a Protestant missionary, popularized the English translation.
Folks at the Vatican describe evangelization as the "great commission" occasionally, generally when communicating with those who are more familiar with Protestant culture:
- "Evangelization, Proselytism and Common Witness"
The Report from the Fourth Phase of International Dialogue 1990-1997 between the Roman Catholic Church and some Classical Pentecostal Churches and Leaders (1997)
- "Visit to the Cathedral of Saints Simon and Jude in Phoenix"
St. John Paul II (September 14, 1987)
- "Homily of His Holiness of John Paul II"
Prayer Meeting with an Ecumenical Group from the Netherlands, St. John Paul II (March 21, 1986)
That's why we've been taking Matthew 28:19 very seriously for two millennia. But this isn't the first, or 11th, century. It's the 21st. How we present our Lord's message of hope gets renewed regularly.
"...Proclaiming Jesus Christ the only Saviour of the World, today is more complex than in the past; but our task remains identical to that at the dawn of our history. The mission has not changed, just as the enthusiasm and courage that moved the Apostles and first disciples must not change. The Holy Spirit which prompted them to open the doors and made evangelizers of them (cf. Acts 2: 1-4) is the same Spirit which today moves the Church to a renewed proclamation of hope for the people of our time...."Evangelization might be easier if we could side-step the hard bits: what our Lord said in John 6:54-55, for example. (June 22, 2014)
("To participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization,"1 Pope Benedict XVI (May 30, 2011))
That's not an option, though. My reasons for joining my Lord's outfit are pretty much what Simon Peter said in John 6:68-69, and that's another topic. (September 13, 2014)
Today is Trinity Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: so I'd better leave Corpus Christi for next week, and talk about God being one, indivisible: and three persons.
The Trinity isn't like Bruce Wayne or Kal-El/Clark Kent, one person with multiple identities.
I've heard and read that some folks think Christians are polytheists, worshiping three gods. That's understandable, since we worship God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
That's not how it is, though.
Quite a bit of the Old Testament is an account of God convincing Abraham's and Isaac's descendants that God is One.
" 'But,' said Moses to God, 'when I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," if they ask me, "What is his name?" what am I to tell them?'Jesus re-affirms that God is One in Mark 12:29, where our Lord quotes Deuteronomy 6:4. The Nicene Creed starts with "We believe in one God...." (Catechism, 200-202)
"6 God replied, 'I am who am.' Then he added, 'This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.'"
"You shall not have other gods besides me."
"I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides me...."
But it's not quite that simple.
God is three Persons, and all three were at our Lord's baptism:
"12 After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him.Matthew 28:19 tells us to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit."
"And a voice came from the heavens, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, 13 with whom I am well pleased.' "
That isn't a grammatical error. It's a straightforward declaration of the Trinity. (Catechism, 233)
God the Son reveals God the Father, God the Holy Spirit reveals God the Father and Son, and there's a lot more to say about the Trinity. (Catechism, 232-260)
I like understanding things, but I don't understand how the Trinity works.
I understand that the Trinity exists: the Almighty Father, His only Son, and the Holy Spirit — one God, three Persons.
But how that works? Exactly? The operational details? No, I do not understand. It's literally a mystery of faith. It is a reality that I accept: but cannot comprehend. (Catechism, 232-237)
God's God, I'm not, and I'm okay with that. Like Saint Augustine said:
"If it is God (you claim to know), you do not understand; if you understand, it is not God."And that's yet another topic.
(Saint Augustine, Sermon 52, 16; via Chapter 10, "Augustine's World," Donald X. Burt, O.S.A.; Villanova University)
More of my take on what's happened, and what's ahead:
- "Scrutinies, Options, and 'a Great Multitude' "
(March 22, 2015)
- "The Trinity: a Divine Unity, and a Mystery"
(March 8, 2015)
- "Talents, and the Best News Ever"
(November 16, 2014)
- "Yeats, Cthulhu, and Synod 14"
(October 19, 2014)
- "Joy and Standing Orders"
(October 5, 2014)
1 More about the New Evanglization:
- "Evangelii Gaudium"
Pope Francis (November 24, 2013)
(From vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html (December 1, 2013))
- "Instrumentum Laboris"
The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith
Synod of Bishops XIII Ordinary General Assembly (2012)
participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New
Pope Benedict XVI (May 30, 2011)
(From vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2011/may/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20110530_nuova-evangelizzazione.html (May 29, 2015))