Written by Sherry
Sunday, 27 May 2007 09:21
As Fr. Mike noted below, the Feast of Pentecost is not only the birthday of the Church but simultaneously the reception of supernatural power for the sake of her primary mission: to preach Christ to all and make disciples.
So just a few things to contemplate:
Michael Green in Evangelism in the Early Church points out that conversion, as we know it, was something almost totally new in the ancient world, when Christianity was born. The Roman attitude was: if you encountered some new faith that appealed to you, you simply added that new god/goddess or devotion to your pantheon - and many of these gods were "local" deities. The idea of conversion to an exclusive devotion to a single, universal God was introduced by Judiasm. So the impact - and scandal - of the "great commission" to go out and make disciples of all nations.
Most Catholics tend to think of religious identity as basically stable, that most people stay in the faith of their birth. But, as David Barrett points out, religious affiliation is, in fact, remarkably fluid. He estimates, as of 2000, that
19 million people convert to Christianity every year.
16.5 million Christians leave the faith every year!
The old saying:"God has no grandchildren" certainly comes alive when contemplating this statistic.
It is staggering to realize that 35 mlllion people move in or out of the Christian faith every year! That does imply a net gain of 2.5 million Christians every year or 69,000 new Christians every 24 hours!
In a given 24 hour period 122,000 new Christians are baptized and 37,000 new Catholics are added to the Church.
The "New Evangelization" is directed to the 16.5 million and their families who leave every year. The Mission Ad Gentes is directed toward the 19 million who will hear and be baptized for the first time this year.
And both spring from Pentecost.