Updated: April 27, 2021 07:00 AM GMT
‘The Mission and Evangelization of the Church’ seminar held at St Alfonsus Theologate in Ho Chi Minh City on April 24. (Photo supplied)
Seminarians and professors, religious brothers and sisters from different congregations, postulants and members of the Redemptorist Youth Ministry gathered for a seminar on "The Mission and Evangelization of the Church" at St Alfonsus Theologate in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City.
The April 24 seminar aimed to rediscover and inspire the evangelizing spirit among young religious brothers and sisters. The main speakers were Father Joseph Do Quang Khang, a professor at the Major Seminary of St. Joseph Saigon, and Father Joseph Tran Si Tin, a Redemptorist missionary who has worked with the Jrai people for more than 50 years.
The first speaker, Father Joseph Do Quang Khang, brought the audience back to the foundation of faith. Examining the Gospel of John — "Just as the Father sent me, I also send you" (John 20:21) — the priest asked: "Are there one or two missions?" After analyzing the original text, Father Joseph observed: “There is only one mission entrusted to Jesus by the Father, which is ‘to make people become God's children’."
However, this mission has a dual character. The Father entrusts Jesus to "make a person become a child of the Father," and then Jesus assigns the mission to that child so that he or she will continue to "make another person become a son or daughter of the Heavenly Father." This mission requires the recipient of the mission to have an "experience" of being God's child before proclaiming about God.
Father Joseph then analyzed the Gospel of Matthew: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach them to keep everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28: 19-20).
If the mission according to John's Gospel is "a Father-Centered Mission," then Matthew's theology presents a "Christ-Centered Mission" that seeks to make all nations disciples of Jesus. We wouldn't be able to "make one a disciple of Jesus" if we weren't really disciples of Jesus, the priest observed.
Jrai people often pray with steps: listening to God's Word, praying to it, bearing witness to God's grace
In his conclusion, Father Joseph reminded participants that God commanded us to "do" but God did not say "how." God was open to our freedom and creativity.
Stepping up to the lectern, Father Joseph Tran Si Tin addressed everyone: "I don't dare to stand here to preach, but I stand here to 'testify' to God's blessings given to me in my missionary life."
Then, based on Acts 2:36: "Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified,” Father Si Tin shared about the Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) and Kerygma (Proclamation) for more than 50 years in his ministry among the Jrai community.
"Evangelization is done through praying to the Word of God, Lectio Divina, not just by sermons," the missionary observed.
“Jrai people often pray with steps: listening to God's Word, praying to it, bearing witness to God's grace,” he said.
Father Si Tin believes that witnessing is very important because it strengthens the faith of both the witness and the listener. Through the Lectio Divina, Jrai brothers and sisters realized and boldly confessed Christ as their Lord. That is the very core of the Church's faith: Jesus Christ died, rose and ascended into Heaven, named by God as Lord and Christ.
“We thank God for what we learned today,” said Khanh Linh, a member of the Redemptorist Youth Ministry in southern Vietnam. "This is the beginning of being immersed more in the missionary spirit in general and the missionary spirit of Redemptorists in particular."