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WHY DO WE PREACH CHRIST TO NON-CHRISTIANS?
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 22nd Week of the Year, September 01, 2014
1 Cor. 2:1-5, Ps. 118, Luke 4:16-30


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1-2).


Although God has given everyone general revelation through nature, no one has come to the point of glorifying God properly solely through general revelation. And the world is without excuse for this failure, because God has made himself known to them through his creation. "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened" (Rom. 1:19-21).


God has therefore also provided us with his special revelation in the Old and New Testament so that we might clearly know him, honor him properly, and believe in him, and so be saved. We are saved through special revelation both in Old and New Testament times by our faith in God, for "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (Rom. 4:3). Abraham was justified through his faith. And now in the New Testament period all who believe in Jesus Christ are justified, for he made reparation for our sins that satisfied divine justice on behalf of all who believe in him. "But now the righteousness of God ... is revealed ... through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe" (Rom. 3:21-22 NKJV). He is the one "whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness" (Rom. 3:25 NKJV). To be made righteous by Christ we must believe in him and call upon him, for it is through faith that we are justified.


That is why St. Paul went to Corinth, proclaiming Christ crucified to both Jews and Greeks. "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). This is the mission of the Church today as well. Salvation comes to the world only through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and it is received only by those who have faith in him. "He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:18). "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36 NKJV).


So to be saved we need to call upon Jesus Christ with faith. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" (Rom. 10:14-15 NKJV). This is the mission of the church, to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified to the entire world, to non-Christians, for their salvation. Therefore the risen Lord commissioned his apostles, saying, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). This is the Gentile mission of the Church that continues to this day.


But what about those who have still not yet heard the gospel? We believe that God will give them knowledge of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ in a way known to God alone (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes #22) so that they will have a chance to choose to believe or refuse to believe for their salvation or condemnation.


Perhaps this knowledge will come to them through other Christians, through books, through the radio, television, or internet, or perhaps it will be revealed to them through dreams, as God often did in Biblical times. But the one thing that is certain is that Christ has given his Church a mission to make the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ known to the entire world, to every people and nation, for the salvation of all who believe.

 

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