Encountering God and others leads to the rediscovery of the faith in Christ

Mgr Sako: encountering God and others leads to the rediscovery of the faith in Christ

by Louis Sako
We are presenting the address by the archbishop of Kirkuk to the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation. For him, it is important to develop a Christian theology and an Arab-Christian culture to proclaim God’s word for non-Christians in the Middle East.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, addressed the 13th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the “New Evangelisation and the transmission of the Christian Faith”. In his statement, he noted that the Gospel must be presented with “a new vocabulary, one that is more understandable, positive and attractive. In his view, there is also a need to develop a theology that “takes into account the Arab world” and non-Christians. Because of an injury, he could take part in the assembly and his address was thus delivered by Mgr Sleimon Wardouni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, who took his place at the Synod. Mgr Sako’s speech follows.

Two points must be emphasised:

The mission of the Synod is to rediscover the dynamic force of the Gospel and bring it forth with a new vocabulary that is more understandable, positive and attractive.

Like love, faith is a reality that expresses itself through this: encountering others and interacting with them at a personal level. This relationship becomes a source of life. What matters is living a mystic experience-the encounter with God-that is not as an exercise in speculation or a verbal explanation.

The relationship, the encounter, produces a feeling, an intimate attitude that contains all of man’s other depths and has the power to renew and make him grow. Theology, by contrast, is a complex system nowadays. Usually, the faithful do not understand it, and end up misinterpreting the mission Christians have. This undermines the force and dynamics of the Good News.

With the encounter with others comes the passion to proclaim Jesus’ Good News, which says that God is our Father and that we all are his children, thus brothers and sisters who live in God’s grace and joy.

Jesus gave us the possibility of living in true freedom. Believers have reason to hold firm hope and positive faith in the Risen Jesus. Thus, the Pasqual mystery is not an ancient event, but is present today, driving us towards Salvation. For us, persecuted Christians, it is a source of strength. Only this way can we understand a bit better what it means to walk until sacrifice!

Nowadays, a firm spiritual and biblical background is needed for our clergy so that it can discover and interpret the signs of the Spirit. I wonder what reasons for hope and joy we are giving our young people in our teachings.

We must include in our liturgy, which is the feast of Redemption, the joy of celebrating the Risen Lord and a commitment to bear witness to him. Where is the kerygmatic dimension? A new theological approach based on a life of grace and joy of being Christian is required nowadays. We must renew theology, free it from rationalism, relativism and fideism, which impoverish the dynamism of the Gospel.

Need for a theology that takes into account the mindset of the Arab world

Nowadays, we have to develop a Christian theology and Arab-Christian culture that can proclaim the Word of God to Arab or Arab-speaking Christians and non-Christians alike to help them discover God’s love and his paternal presence. This would improve dialogue and strengthen harmonic coexistence among peoples and confessions, respecting the dignity of each man.

This should be a commitment and a priority mission for the Church in the Middle East, where it is facing a number of challenges and is threatened of extinction.

Naturally, such theology does not mean isolation from the theology of the Universal Church, or being in contradiction with it. It is rather a helpful tool to help it discover its own identity and mission within an Arab and Muslim context, as well as a tool to help live and interact with current events.

This theological approach is an urgent necessity and aspiration. It should be based on the Bible and the tradition of the Fathers, on the vast Arab Christian literature of the Middle Ages, updated in accordance with the culture of the people of today and their situation.

Such a Christian theology, with its ecumenical dimension within the Christian world, looks as well at the Muslim world and its expectations. This will give Christians and Muslims great strength to remain in our lands and continue our presence, witness and hope.

This was the purpose of the Synod of the Middle East. Let us hope that the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente will help take some steps in this direction in spite of the difficulties caused by the general instability and the domination of majority cultures in the Middle East.

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