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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
(Part 8)

FISHERS OF MEN (Part 2)


November 30, 2010

Today’s readings
Romans 10:9-18
Psalm 19:2-5
Matthew 4:18-22


At the very start of a new year (Church’s liturgical year), as we prepare for the coming of Jesus, the Savior of the world, the readings today impress upon us what is our mission as CFC-FFL. In one word, our mission is “evangelization.” We are an evangelistic and missionary community. We exist to evangelize.

What is the relation of evangelization to Jesus’ own mission, for his coming into the world?

Jesus would go on to win for us our salvation on the cross. God would then have accomplished everything that was needed for us to be restored to a relationship with the Father, thereby enabling us to make it to heaven, our eternal home. There was nothing more to be added to Jesus’ sacrificial offering. But for people to actually experience that salvation, they had to respond. They had to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus in faith, accepting what he had done for them. As Paul said, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9).

Therefore, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13). But for that to happen, some things need to happen first. “But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent?” (Rom 10:14-15a). This is the process of evangelization. Evangelizers are sent, they proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus, people hear, by the grace of God they believe, they call on the name of the Lord, and thus they are saved.

This process of evangelization is how God planned it from the very start. Thus, after having won salvation on the cross for all humankind, after appearing to people over forty days, Jesus called his disciples before ascending into heaven, and gave them the commission to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15). In this way, Jesus started the process of evangelization, by sending forth the evangelizers.

Now Jesus, at the very start of his public ministry, had already known how salvation was to be brought to the ends of the earth. It was to be done by his disciples. It would be he who would win salvation on the cross, but it would be they who would proclaim that salvation to others.

Thus, at the very start, he put his core team together. These were the apostles (meaning “those who are sent”). He started by calling two sets of brothers--Peter and Andrew, and James and John (Mt 4:18-22). Jesus told them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mt 4:19). Then he trained them for three years, finally sending them forth to evangelize the world.

This call is not just for the apostles, not just for the disciples on the mountain when Jesus ascended into heaven, but to all who profess to follow him. This call is very much relevant for today. In fact, it is just as urgent today as it was then.

How do we respond to Jesus’ call to become fishers of men?

First, we need to see that Jesus calls ordinary people. In this case, he called four fishermen. They were not learned scribes, or Mosaic law-abiding Pharisees, or theologians, or Bible scholars, or renowned personages; they were simple fishermen. This is great news for us. God calls everyone to become an evangelizer, and we, whatever our situation in life, are among those called. Jesus then goes on to form us and train us. As the saying goes, Jesus does not call the qualified, but qualifies those who are called.

Second, we need to respond to Jesus’ call with joy at the great privilege of doing his work. What a privilege indeed it is to be an instrument of salvation for others! Now if what we are called to do is divine work, then we must be willing to commit our whole lives to our mission. Peter and Andrew abandoned their fishing, what they had known all their lives, to follow Jesus to an unknown future. James and John even left their father and the family that they had lived with all their lives. Jesus and his work are worth giving our total commitment to.

Third, we look to rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization, as this is according to Jesus’ commission. The early Church, established at Pentecost and led by Peter, understood this, and so they evangelized rapidly and massively, and did mission to the ends of the known civilized world at that time. What is important is for the whole world to hear the good news and be given the opportunity to respond and thus be saved. We must do our share such that our “voice has gone forth to all the earth, and (our) words to the ends of the world.” (Rom 10:18). God’s very creation silently (Ps 19:4) proclaims the glory of God (Ps 19:2), doing this day in and day out (Ps 19:3). We too are called to proclaim the glory of God, manifested in the saving work of Jesus, but we are to do this not silently but loudly, persistently every day of our lives. We must work such that our “report goes forth through all the earth, (our) message, to the ends of the world.” (Ps 19:5).

Fourth, we must never be discouraged if we have challenges and setbacks in our work of evangelization. Our experience has already been that “not everyone has heeded the good news” (Rom 10:16a). Jesus never said it would be easy. He went to the cross; we too will experience our own crosses. But we simply need to persevere, knowing that “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17). Our task is to obey, and the fruit is up to God.

Fifth, whatever the result of our work (whether a big harvest or not), we must rest secure in the knowledge that we are pleasing to God in our response. “As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Rom 10:15b).

God raised CFC-FFL to be an evangelistic and missionary community. Every CFC-FFL member is to be an evangelizer. What a great privilege, and responsibility, this is.

So go and fish!

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Fishers of Men (Part 2)[PDF]
 
 
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