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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
(Part 100)

COMMISSIONED TO PREACH THE GOSPEL – 4


April 25, 2019

Today’s readings:
Acts 3:11-26
Psalm 8:2-9
Luke 24:35-48

Jesus’ final instruction to his disciples was to proclaim the gospel, “that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Lk 24:47). This would be a continuation of his work of salvation, thus preached in his name. Its aim is to bring people to conversion, starting with the forgiveness of their sins, so that they would indeed receive the gift of salvation. And the gospel is to be preached to everyone, to every nation, to the very ends of the earth.

This is why our Church is missionary. Her greatest priority is not poverty alleviation, immigration, political reform, climate change or social justice (though all these are important) but the proclamation of the gospel. After all, if people will not ultimately make it to heaven, what ultimate good would all the other good works have?

The initial proclamation of the gospel is the kerygma. Before anything else, this has to happen. People need to meet and know Christ. Faith comes from hearing the good news of salvation in Jesus. This needs to happen too with Catholics today, who are mostly lapsed or cultural.

So we are called to preach the gospel. Aside from the initial interrelationship and invitation we extend to people (which is the start of evangelization but not yet the kerygma), we have the CLS (for CFC-FFL) or the LCS (for LCSC). This is the kerygma.

Consider what Jesus himself tells his disciples before he ascends to heaven.

  • Session #1: Jesus the Messiah. We teach about Jesus, about who he is and what he has done for us. “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled. …. Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day” (Lk 24:44,46).
  • Session #2: Called to Witness. “You are witnesses of these things.” (Lk 24:48).
  • Session #3: Repentance and Faith. “Repentance in his name, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations” (Lk 24:47).

The above three basically constitute the kerygma. Then we have Session #4: The Gift of the Holy Spirit. “And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49). This is empowerment in order to live righteous lives that enables us to be authentic witnesses, as well as to preach the gospel effectively. It is to live Christ and to share Christ.

In the reading two days ago, we saw how Peter preached the gospel on the day of Pentecost. Now we look at how he preached to the Israelites in Solomon’s Portico.

  • Session #1: Jesus the Messiah. Paul talks about God’s “servant Jesus,” “the Holy and Righteous One,” “the author of life,” and “that his Messiah would suffer.” (Acts 3:13-15,18).
  • Session #2: Called to Witness. “Of this we are witnesses.” (Acts 3:15b).
  • Session #3: Repentance and Faith. “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19).

What is the purpose of the kerygma? It is to bring people to conversion, so that they would experience the salvation of Jesus. It is to meet Christ, in order to live Christ, and later to share Christ. With these three aspects of relating to Jesus, we are saved, and we can look forward to making it to heaven. The intent is “that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration” (Acts 3:20-21a).

Repentance is a crucial aspect, for us to undergo metanoia, a turning away from the world and turning to God. This is the beginning of salvation. “For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.” (Acts 3:26). This is why the political correctness being accepted by many Christians today is so wrong and dangerous. This is when we just accept, embrace and accompany all sinners, but without trying to get them out of their sin. To talk about their sin is deemed offensive and hurtful. Well, to let them remain in their sin is more hurtful, as it would deprive them of salvation and heaven.

To proclaim the gospel is the great privilege and responsibility of a disciple of Jesus. It is to do the very work of God. David was awed at what God had made of humankind. “Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor.” (Ps 8:6). We are made in the image and likeness of God, and we are called to be other Christs. “You have given him rule over the works of your hands” (Acts 8:7a). This is not just having dominion over God’s creation, but more importantly, being entrusted with the continuation of Jesus’ salvific work. In truth, God has made Himself depended upon His people to get His divine work done. “You have …. put all things at his feet.” (Ps 8:7b). In doing this work, God has empowered His people by His Spirit, given them victory over the enemy, and tasked them to build His Kingdom on earth.

There is one more thing. Christians today are the new Israel, and as such, are inheritors of the covenant. “You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors” (Acts 3:25a). God had made a great promise, “when he said to Abraham, ‘In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Acts 3:25b). The blessing is through the generations, until the Lord returns.

How would our families and all the families in the world be blessed? This happens as they hear the gospel proclaimed and put their faith in Jesus. How can this come about? By the work of families on mission.

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