THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
COMMISSIONED TO PREACH THE GOSPEL – 5
April 26, 2019
Psalm 118:1-2, 4, 22-24, 25-27
We are commissioned to preach the gospel of salvation in Jesus.
Why? So that people will be saved, be restored to God the
Father, and be able to enter heaven. And there is only one
way for this to happen. It is by, in and through Jesus. “There
is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other
name under heaven given to the human race by which we are
to be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
is the Savior. He won salvation for us through the cross.
When we accept him as Savior and Lord, we are saved. We in
turn are to work for the salvation of others, through the
work of evangelization. And so it was that on the evening
of his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles and commissioned
them. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
(Jn 20:21b). They were to do divine work,continuing after
Jesus, according to God’s intent.
one week later, Jesus again appeared to the apostles (this
time with Thomas there). With Thomas’ profession of
faith, Jesus said, “Have you come to believe because
you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and
have believed.” (Jn 20:29). When the gospel is preached
to those who have not actually seen the risen Lord and they
believe, then they are blessed, as they will be saved. So
the work of evangelization is divine work that brings blessing
to people. The ultimate blessing is salvation. We his disciples
are privileged to be instruments of such blessing.
So why were Peter and the others fishing, not for men but
for fish? “I am going fishing.” (Jn 21:3). They
had already been commissioned (Jn 20:21,23), they had already
been given the Spirit (Jn 20:22), and Jesus had already appeared
to them twice. They had been taught and trained by Jesus for
up to three years, they had already gone on practicum and
were successful against Satan, so what was keeping them from
going all-out to be fishers of men?
the reason, “Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples
at the Sea of Tiberias.” (Jn 21:1). “This was
now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after
being raised from the dead.” (Jn 21:14). Jesus needed
to intensify their faith, to make sure theirs was not just
emotional euphoria because of their seeing him alive. So his
third appearance has a number of significant aspects for our
we need to realize that apart from his grace and power, apart
from working according to his ways, apart from strictly abiding
by his instructions, we can do nothing. They had fished “but
that night they caught nothing.” (Jn 21:3b). Jesus told
them to cast the net over the right side and they caught a
great number of fish (Jn 21:6).
we may know about Christ but we might not really know him.
“Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples
did not realize that it was Jesus.” (Jn 21:4). Jesus
is so near and yet so far. This is the situation of 99 of
the 100 sheep, who are lost, lapsed or just cultural Christians.
Many of them are in effect baptized pagans.
the harvest is rich, if we will only follow Jesus’ instructions
on the proclamation of the gospel. “So he said to them,
‘Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you
will find something.’ So they cast it, and were not
able to pull it in because of the number of fish.” (Jn
21:6). The harvest is rich, because it is God’s own
work, and God’s intent is that everyone be saved, but
unfortunately the laborers are few, and even the few might
not be that zealous. Our Church, which is missionary, is today
focused on many things other than mission.
all disciples of Jesus can and should participate in the work
of evangelization. They do not have to be missionaries who
would go off to foreign lands (they can do that as well),
but they evangelize in the normal, day-to-day circumstances
of their lives. The disciples “were not far from shore,
only about a hundred yards” (Jn 21:8b). Those we are
to evangelize are our closest relatives, our neighbors, our
friends, our co-workers, and the like.
the work of evangelization is to be done to the ends of the
earth. “So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net
ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.”
(Jn 21:11a). St Jerome claims that Greek zoologists catalogued
153 species of fish. So the catch of the apostles signified
the universal mission of the Church.
the task is difficult, and there will be trials, suffering,
persecution and pain. But the Lord is there to sustain and
strengthen us always. “Even though there were so many,
the net was not torn.” (Jn 21:11b). Doing the Lord’s
work, even as it is rapid, massive and worldwide, should not
wear us down. We must endure and persevere.
a major part of the Lord’s provision of grace and strength
is the Eucharist. “Jesus came over and took the bread
and gave it to them” (Jn 21:13). We receive the Bread
of Life each and every week, and hopefully each and every
day. Thus are we assured of bountiful grace and blessing for
our lives, our families and our mission.
Many Catholics today do not really know Jesus. If they do
not not know him, having never really met him and entered
into a personal relationship with him, then how can they live
his way of life? Many Catholics go through the motions, even
reception of Holy Communion, but they might as well ask of
Jesus, “Who are you?” (Jn 21:12b). Let that not
be so. Let us proclaim the gospel, let us share Christ, so
that Catholics can really meet Christ and live Christ, as
he reveals himself to them. Let it then be said that “they
realized it was the Lord.” (Jn 21:12c).
the prayer of all evangelizers be: “Lord, grant salvation!”
(Ps 118:25a). As an instrument of God’s divine work,
let it be proclaimed: “Blessed is he who comes in the
name of the Lord.” (Ps 118:26a).