Author and lecturer Capuchin Fr. Michael Crosby addressed the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests on Tuesday, telling the 225 gathered men, "We've got to reclaim the Gospel proclaimed by the Jesus of history and St. Paul."
He said society has co-opted the word "Gospel" with terms such as the "Gospel of the Secular Age" or the "Gospel of Prosperity" or even the "Gospel of Milton Friedman" or the "Gospel of Me."
Crosby traced the meaning of the word back to the reign of Caesar: Gospel meant "good news, deliverance from something negative." Gospel was "an overarching concept of imperial rule," and "every time a new country was conquered, the gospel of pax romana was proclaimed."
"The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the overarching metaphor in the synoptics," he said. "The Gospel of God's kingdom is Trinitarian."
Crosby said, "Dei Verbum, the primary Scripture document to come out of Vatican II, reveals our God to be a triune community of love."
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Jesus' Gospel is "a challenge to all that is un-Trinitarian, a challenge to imperial economies and ecclesiologies." In this kingdom, he said, there is equality for persons, not discrimination; resources are distributed with equitability, not through deprivation.
While the Gospel of Jesus was about the Kingdom of God, the Gospel as described by St. Paul was about the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Paul says: "I preached to you the Gospel, that Christ died for our sins in accord with the scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day."
Crosby said, "My thesis is that in [Paul's] overpowering Gospel, everybody forgot the Gospel of Jesus, Matthew, Mark and Luke."
"Which Gospel do we proclaim?" Crosby asked the men.
"We have got to find a way to unite the two Gospels -- the Gospel of the triune relationships on earth as it is in heaven" and the Gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "What Jesus meant and what Paul meant has to be the basis of priestly ministry."
"At this moment, priests of the Catholic church, grounded in Paul's Gospel, need to call everyone in the church to base their lives and the church structures on the archetype of these Gospels."