The Kerygma, Then and Now

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Monday in the Octave of Easter

Acts 2:14, 22-33; Matthew 28:8-15

The year 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.  One of the great discussions or debates within many parts of the Church at that time and in the succeeding years was whether or not Vatican II and its documents should be read with a hermeneutic of continuity or discontinuity, an elaboration of Tradition or a further development of it.  As in so many other areas of our life as a community of faith, the answer is “both.”  In fact, from the earliest days of the Church’s birth, we have experienced this dynamic.

Peter’s discourse in today’s first reading is one of six in the Acts of the Apostles that involve the kerygma or proclamation of the gospel message—what God has done and continues to do through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  It marks both a break from the exclusivity of the Jewish faith and an affirmation of the centrality of Judaism in our own salvation history.  As we will read throughout the Acts of the Apostles during this Easter season, this dynamic tension eventually leads to the emergence of a distinct Christian community. 

Today’s gospel passage provides us with some further reminders about the kerygma: 

  • Women have been chosen to proclaim it just as much as men; and in fact it was first entrusted to “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” in the wake of the resurrection. 
  • It is inspiring to some and threatening to others, particularly those whose hopes are rooted in something other than the Kingdom of God.
  • As we have witnessed in so many places of the world in recent years—most recently in Lahore, Pakistan on Easter Sunday—it is sometimes not only met with indifference or opposed but even violently persecuted. 
  • In spite of everything, we need not be afraid.  Jesus is with us. –JC