Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus sent the twelve to evangelize the countryside. To evangelize is to proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. When this kerygma, this Paschal Mystery, is not at the heart of the project, Christian evangelization effectively disappears, devolving into a summons to bland religiosity or generic spirituality.
When Jesus crucified and risen is not proclaimed, a beige and unthreatening Catholicism emerges, a thought system that is, at best, an echo of the environing culture. Peter Maurin, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, said that the Church has taken its own dynamite and placed it in hermetically sealed containers and sat on the lid.
In a similar vein, Protestant theologian Stanley Hauerwas commented that the problem with Christianity is not that it is socially conservative or politically liberal but that “it is just too damned dull”! For both Maurin and Hauerwas, what leads to this attenuation is a refusal to preach the dangerous and unnerving news concerning Jesus risen from the dead.