I define the word encounter positively—as a person-to-person transforming experience. For Christians, this experience points to Jesus. As Pope Francis says in the opening words of Evangelii Gaudium: “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” The rights and responsibilities of baptism call upon all Christians to help create a culture of transformative encounter—the beloved community of Martin Luther King Jr, the Basilea of God envisioned in Scripture.
I invite preachers to meditate on the following paragraph written by Bruno Cadore, O.P., in a March 2017 letter to the friars of the Order of Preachers ending the 800th Jubilee celebration of the founding of the Order by St. Dominic in 1216:
"Encounter is the first way of preaching, the manner in which we wish to become preachers and proclaim the Kingdom. An encounter that echoes that of the God of revelation with His people, of which he sees the suffering and hears the clamour, to the point that He just walks with his people. And we believe that this is the God that sends us to encounter our contemporaries, to talk with them about this good news of the Kingdom of God and thus to evangelize the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This encounter, as we have said, is not only curiosity or desire to know something new, it is not only apologetic, it is first a determination to love, serve, and take care of humanity whose destiny we share. Certainly, we meet people who are ready to listen and receive, but also indifferent people, disillusioned, and sometimes even opposed. In all cases, the authenticity of life, the fairest coherence possible between what is said and what is lived, will ensure the credibility of the preacher and of fraternal communities of preaching, at the same time as that of the message. Encounter will always be the occasion of an «adjustment» of mutual communication between human beings and, as in the dialogue with the Samaritan woman or the walk on the roads of Emmaus, it will seek to be guided by the pedagogy of God himself when he enters into conversation with his people. We have expressed the wish that this conviction of encounter leads us to get out of the different «bubbles» in which we are often too settled, and to seek to meet, as a matter of priority, those who suffer violence, poverty, exclusion and social discrimination: they teach us something essential about our own vulnerability. We would like to learn something from them about the reality of the promise that is accomplished when God takes a body in this world, and becomes vulnerable, to being placed on the Cross to open for the multitude the way to life."
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To put our Ministry of the Word succinctly: