Pope Benedict's 3 'Laws' for Evangelization

In a recent interview, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity recalls then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2000 speech in which he spoke about Christians’ need to live their faith, how God is in charge of evangelizing results, and the ‘logic of the cross.’

Drawing of Parable of the Mustard Seed
Drawing of Parable of the Mustard Seed (photo: Wikipedia)

ROME (EWTN News) — The president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, recently explained the “three laws” proposed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — Benedict XVI — for the process of evangelization.

Cardinal Rylko emphasized that the world urgently needs evangelization. His remarks were published in the Sept. 21 edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

He referred to a speech by then-Cardinal Ratzinger on Dec. 10, 2000, at a congress for catechists and religion teachers. It was there that the present-day Pope explained the three laws.

Cardinal Ratzinger spoke about the “crisis of God” in the world, in which “Christians often live as if God did not exist.” On the basis of this premise, he explained three laws for evangelization, the first of which is the “law of expropriation.”

Christians “are not the owners, but the humble servants of the great cause of God in the world,” Cardinal Rylko said. “As St. Paul writes, we do not preach ourselves but the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are your servants out of love of Jesus,” he continued.

“For this reason, Cardinal Ratzinger strongly underscored that ‘to evangelize is not simply a way of speaking, but rather a way of living: living by listening and giving voice to the Father.”

Evangelization, therefore, “is not a private affair, because God and the Church are always behind it,” and, consequently, it is important to always remain in prayer, he said.

The second law for evangelization, Cardinal Rylko continued, “is that which stems from the parable of the mustard seed.”

“Great things begin in humility,” Cardinal Ratzinger said. “Thus, God has particular predilection for the humble.”

“The parable of the mustard seed says that one who proclaims the Gospel should be humble; he should not expect to obtain immediate results, whether qualitative or quantitative, because the law of big numbers is not the law of the Church,” Cardinal Rylko explained.

This is because the master of the harvest is God, and he determines the rhythm, time and manner in which the seed grows, he continued. “This law protects us from despair in our missionary efforts, without exempting us from giving everything, as the Apostle to the Gentiles reminds us: ‘He who sows little, reaps little; he who sows abundantly, reaps abundantly.’”

The third law has to do with the seed that dies in order to bear fruit. In evangelization, the logic of the cross is always present. Cardinal Ratzinger spoke of this when he said, “Jesus has not redeemed the world with nice words, but with his suffering and his death. His passion is the inexhaustible source of life for the world — his passion gives strength to his word.”

Cardinal Rylko also recalled the example, strength and testimony of the martyrs, who constitute the “great spiritual patrimony of the Church and a luminous sign of hope for her future.”

Amid the many challenges of the third millennium, he added, “We must never lose hope. The Successor of Peter assures us that God ‘will also today find new ways to call men and wants us to be his messengers and servants.’”