By Fr. Michel Mulloy
At the heart of the celebration of the Mass is the kerygma. Say what? Kerygma?
Kerygma is a Greek word that means proclamation or preaching. It was the word used in the early Christian times to describe the first message of the fledgling community. Jesus, who suffered and died, rose again! It was the core teaching of the new church and remains so for us today. As such, it is at the heart of the celebration of the Mass. Okay, better back up.
During Mass, we are offering thanks to God the Father for what he has done for us. We thank him for the gift of his Son, Jesus, who died on the cross and rose triumphantly to free us from our sins. We commemorate (remember with) Jesus sacrificing his life to God the Father. We join in Jesus’ sacrifice by our attention, our participation in the acclamations and our interior offering of our lives along with Jesus. This is what Jesus asked us to do. “Do this in memory of me,” Jesus said, and “I will be with you always.” His Word tells us that we will share in his victory over sin and death. That is the kerygma, the proclamation of this good news of salvation
Father John Riccardo, who is coming to lead us in the Summit next fall, takes the proclamation of the kerygma seriously. He teaches that there are four points to consider.
First, God created the world and all that is in it. God created you and me and God did so out of pure love. There was no need for God to do this. God simply loves, and his love is manifested in the creation of the whole world, including and especially human beings. We gather at Mass as his loved creatures.
Second, we sinned. The story of the fall reveals the great loss of God’s love. It reveals the reality of evil in our world, and Lucifer who is the king of this world. Lucifer and the fallen angels lost paradise in their rebellion. His only purpose in life is to steal from God what God loves more than anything. Lucifer seeks to steal us from God by tempting us to doubt God’s love. At Mass we are reminded of this in the Penitential Rite and the Lamb of God.
The third aspect of the kerygma is Jesus. God sent his Son to become one with us. Jesus came to wage war against Lucifer and his kingdom of death. Jesus was more than a moral teacher, more than a nice guy. He was the one who put on the armor of God’s love and went out to defeat the strong man and steal his possessions. Jesus came to fight for us. He did that by entering the very realm of the devil, death itself. He rose victorious and promised us that we would, too. The evil one cannot win if we are attached to Jesus. We thank God for his Son and his victory in the Eucharistic Prayer.
The fourth part of the kerygma is our response. What are you going to do in light of the proclamation of this good news? At Mass we are invited to “go forth …” The answer to that question is to have faith and to trust in God’s eternal and merciful love. The answer is the celebration of the Mass itself. We come up alongside Jesus, we put on the armor of his Spirit and we offer ourselves with Jesus to God the Father knowing — knowing — that we will triumph. Like I said, at the heart of the celebration of the Mass is the kerygma.