Some Christians claim that the Catholic Church doesn’t really “preach the gospel,” because they believe that salvation by “faith alone” is the substance of the gospel. (See “Does the Church Teach Salvation by Works?”) But what exactly is the substance of this “good news” that must be preached?
St. Peter’s first sermon, which is preached on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:22-40), summarizes Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Then he instructs his hearers: “Repent, and be baptized … for the forgiveness of your sins” (2:38).
In this address, the notion of salvation by “faith alone” does not appear at all. Instead, the gospel preached is the proclamation of who Jesus is and what he has done. Salvation (including God’s forgiveness of sins) comes to the hearers through their response of repentance, baptism, and a subsequent life of obedience to God. When St. Paul preaches the gospel, he makes the same kind of proclamation and calls for the same kind of response (see Acts 13:16-41; 1 Cor 15:1-11).
According to Scripture, then, the gospel is what the Catholic Church has always preached: a proclamation of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, which calls for our response of repentance, baptism, and a life of obedience to God.
In fact, every Mass is an instance of preaching the gospel. A passage from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John is always read publicly at Mass so that we can hear and respond to God’s good news. In addition, at every Mass the fruits of Christ’s work are re-presented to us in the Eucharist, to help us live lives pleasing to God. (See also “Were Other ’Gospels’ Banned From the Bible?”.)