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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
(Part 107)

THE SPIRITUAL AND THE SOCIAL – 2

 

May 6, 2019
Today’s gospel: John 6:22-29


Jesus’ mission is to bring glad tidings to the poor. This means addressing social issues such as poverty, but more so, bringing the good news of salvation to the spiritually poor. If Christians are renewed in their faith, they naturally would find it in their hearts to help the poor. On the other hand, if the poor are helped but not brought to conversion and renewal in Christ, they have not received what God wants for them.

Our Church is missionary and is also the biggest social institution in the world. Our Church had always looked to the spiritual and the social dimensions of the gospel. However, things have been changing. Our Church has largely lost her missionary zeal. There are even those who just advocate living in harmony with other religions and not trying to actively convert people to the faith. On the other hand, our Church, especially in the West, has engaged even more in the social sphere, emphasizing such things as immigration, climate change and other social justice issues. In this regard, those who promote these have even partnered with secular institutions that do things in contradiction to the gospel, such as promoting contraception, abortion and same-sex relationships.

What is Jesus’ perspective? He had just fed 5,000 miraculously, and the people were actively looking for him. Jesus told the crowd, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” (v.26). Are people, especially the poor, coming to our parishes just because of our feeding programs? Jesus certainly did not think that was the priority (though it could be for the poor). “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (v.27a). What is important is salvation and eternal life. It can only come from Jesus, who is the Savior.

The people then asked, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” (v.28). For those who come to Jesus and to the Church, they must seek not only to receive, but to look to what they can give, how they can serve, and most especially, how they can accomplish the works of God. What is the work of God? Jesus himself says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” (v.29). The basic work, intent and will of God is that people come to faith in Jesus.

And how can that happen? It happens as we are sent, we proclaim the gospel, people hear, they believe, they call upon the name of the Lord, and they are saved. Thus the work of evangelization if first and foremost.

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