The kerygma is the first proclamation of the gospel; it is first because it is the core message of the gospel. Christians are not to forget it as they grow in the practice of their Christian life. Rather, as Pope Francis notes, “All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma, which is reflected in and constantly illumines, the work of catechesis, thereby enabling us to understand more fully the significance of every subject which the latter treats. It is the message capable of responding to the desire for the infinite which abides in every human heart” (Evangelii gaudium, 165). If this is the one thing that answers the yearnings of the human heart, how urgent this message is for today!
What, then, is the kerygma and how do we proclaim it? St. Paul gives us an example of the kerygma when he writes, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). We see here that the mystery of Christ is the central message of Christianity. It is through Christ that we come to know God the Father in the gift of the Holy Spirit. The initial proclamation of the gospel, or kerygma, is therefore both Christocentric and Theocentric. As heralds of the gospel, Christians must do more than merely provide a witness of living a good Christian life. At some stage an explicit and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus must be given. As Pope Paul VI taught, “There is no true evangelisation if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed” (Evangelii nuntiandi, 22).