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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
(Part 9)

JESUS’ MISSION, OUR MISSION

December 4, 2010

Today’s gospel
Matthew 9:35-10:8


“Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.” (Mt 9:35). Jesus’ mission was teaching, preaching and healing.

Translating this to our own time, the mission of Jesus’ disciples is Christian formation, proclamation of the gospel and total human liberation. In a word, it is evangelization, which is all about the good news of the kingdom of God now in our midst. We hear the good news as it is preached, we enter more deeply into the Christian life as we are formed through teachings, and we become whole Christians as we are set free from what binds us, including the dominion of Satan.

Jesus did this three-fold mission during his time on earth. Then, knowing that the work would be continued after he had won salvation for humankind and then ascended into heaven, he had previously formed his core group, the twelve apostles (Mt 10:2-4). Now he sent them out on practicum. They were to heal and drive out unclean spirits (Mt 10:1), and they were to proclaim the kingdom (Mt 10:7). They were not yet to teach, and this aspect of the mission would be given only when Jesus commissions his disciples before his ascension (Mt 28:20a). Even today, every new CFC-FFL member can be, and is expected to be, an evangelizer, can pray over people for healing and protection from evil spirits, but would not teach until much more formation is undertaken.

Today, the mission of Jesus, which became the mission of the apostles, is also the very mission of all his disciples, and thus is our very mission in CFC-FFL.

What are some aspects important to know?

First, Jesus went to all the towns and villages (Mt 9:35). The gospel and the fullness of Christian life are intended by God for all people. Jesus died for all, and all are God’s children. Thus everyone should have an opportunity to hear the gospel and hopefully turn to Jesus. For us in CFC-FFL, we look to not only having a nice comfortable or easily manageable ministry, but we deliberately and aggressively go into the whole world, looking for and seizing opportunities to do our work whenever the Lord gives these. This is what gives rise to our rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization.

Second, we must be mindful of the situation of people in the world, and not just go about minding our own business or looking to our own welfare. The reality is that many people are “troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mt 9:36b). This is the very situation in the world today. People are troubled with all the things that are wrong in the world. Many are miserable and lonely, feeling or actually abandoned by those who should love and care for them--spouses (broken marriages), children (rebellious children or those who just dump their old parents in nursing homes), government (officials stealing funds that could be spent to alleviate poverty), society (Christians who go their own way unmindful of those in need), even the Church (pastors neglecting or even being the ones who abuse members of the flock).

Third, “at the sight of the crowds, (Jesus’) heart was moved with pity for them” (Mt 9:36a). Seeing what is wrong in the world and the resultant misery of people, and knowing that Jesus already came to set us free and to experience the fullness of God’s love, we should be spurred to action. In whatever way we can, going out of our comfort zones, giving of our own resources, we should look to help the poor, fight corruption in government, do whatever good we can, and most especially bring people to Christ.

Fourth, we must know that when our Lord sends us on mission, that we go with his authority (Mt 10:1). This is authority to act in his name, and to do the work that he did. We must be mindful that we are stepping into the very sandals of Jesus. And we must know that we already share in his victory over the enemy.

Fifth, we must know who the enemy truly is. It is Satan and his demons. We could be so focused on what is wrong in the world, and try to address these, but fail to realize that behind everything that is wrong is a diabolical enemy totally opposed to God’s plan and ever trying to thwart God’s intent for the life of the world. This is sometimes the problem with those who seek to solve social ills, but do not do so with spiritual weapons. For us, just as it was with the disciples, we are to drive out unclean spirits and cure every disease and illness (Mt 10:1). This can be literal as well as figurative. For us it means that we come against the dominion of Satan and bring people into the kingdom of God, while also working to address the physical, mental, emotional and psychological needs of people.

Sixth, in the call to the twelve apostles (Mt 10:2-4), we should see that God uses anyone, even, or perhaps especially, those who are simple and are not highly placed in society or the Church. The apostles were fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot. Even one who eventually betrayed Jesus. This call to ordinary people to become extraordinary instruments of God should be a great joy to us, knowing that God can use us, if only we will say our yes to His call. But the call will be challenging. We will need to be constantly dependent upon God and His grace, His mercy, His wisdom. We must purify our motives. We must never be selfish. We must not seek power or position. We must not fall into sinful pride, especially as God uses us in the power of His Spirit. Otherwise, we too, like Judas, might end up betraying Jesus and his cause.

Seventh, we are to give ourselves totally to this work, as we see the reality of what this mission is really all about. We realize what a great privilege Jesus has given us in doing his very own divine work. We realize that we have been given a great responsibility, where what happens to the very souls of God’s children has been entrusted to us. We realize how God has made Himself totally dependent upon us to accomplish His purpose in the world. We realize how Jesus has given himself for us, even when we were sinners, even when we were the ones who sent him to the cross. It cost us nothing, but it cost God His very life. Thus, “without cost (we) have received; without cost (we) are to give.” (Mt 10:8b). As Jesus gave his very life, we are also to give our lives freely for the cause.

Finally, we are to pray for more evangelizers and missionaries. Jesus says, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Mt 9:37-38). The harvest is indeed abundant, because Jesus won salvation for all. Further, people who are now in darkness are desperately seeking for the light. They are desperately seeking to be set free of their afflictions and their bondages. The grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit have been made available, and what are just needed are the workers to bring in the harvest.

For us in CFC-FFL, as we have said time and again, every member is to be an evangelizer, in the day-to-day environments of their lives. Every member should be open to becoming a missionary. Every member should be eager to do whatever service is needed. At the very least, and this is something anyone can do, every member should be praying for more laborers, including vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. And of course, every member should fully support the life and mission of the community with their time, talent and treasure.

One more thing: we as CFC-FFL, a Catholic new ecclesial movement, are to focus on re-evangelization of Catholics. While we might have a bit of opportunity to re-evangelize our separated brethren (non-Catholic Christians) or to evangelize pagans (non-Christians), our focus is on helping renew and strengthen the Catholic Church. “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 10:5-6). Jesus wanted to first renew the people covenanted with God, knowing that from there, they could then bring the good news to the whole world. In the same way, the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Jesus, founded on Pentecost, with the popes having an unbroken line of succession from Peter as the head of the Church.

Today, the Catholic Church is practically the only institution that stands in the way of the all-out assault of the anti-life, anti-family, homosexualist forces that seek to establish the dominion of the evil one on the world. The antidote is the renewal of faith, family and life. This is our work in CFC-FFL. We are an evangelistic and missionary community, working to help renew the family and to defend life. We are to do our share in renewing and strengthening the Catholic Church of which we are an integral part.

Postscript: Matthew 9:35, about the mission of Jesus, is practically the same as Matthew 4:23. Before Matthew 4:23, there is the call to the first disciples (Mt 4:18-22). After Matthew 9:35, there is the sending off on mission of these disciples (Mt 10:1-8). In between are the stories of Jesus teaching (Mt 5 to 7) and then healing (Mt 8 and 9).

It could be shown schematically as follows:

  • The call to the apostles
  • Statement of Jesus’ mission
  • Jesus doing his mission with the apostles learning
  • Statement of Jesus’ mission
  • The sending of the apostles

In the same way, God calls us, gives us our mission, shows us the way to do the mission (through other people), reiterates our mission, then sends us off.

Let us realize that indeed our life and mission in CFC-FFL is God’s call to us. Let us understand what CFC-FFL is and what the mission entails. Let us live our lives faithfully in community, striving to learn what this new life is about and giving of ourselves in loving service. Let us keep going back to the reality of who we are as CFC-FFL and why God has called us, and thus keeping ourselves on the right track according to God’s call. Then let us go off into the world to bring the good news of salvation in Jesus to all, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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