THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
Today’s reading: Acts 8:26-40
The other apostles and not just Peter preached the gospel.
“Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed
the Messiah to them.” (v.5). In today’s reading
we have the encounter of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.
Philip “proclaimed Jesus to him.” (v.35b). This
is the kerygma, the first proclamation of the gospel.
And this is centered on proclaiming Christ as the Messiah,
Savior and Lord.
learn a number of things with regard to our work of evangelization
in this episode.
God sends us. “Then the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip,
‘Get up and head south on the road that goes down from
Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.’” (v.26).
The harvest is rich but the laborers are few. God intends
to use all those who have met Christ and who are living Christ
to begin to share Christ. If we are but attentive to the leadings
of the Spirit, God will give us the opportunities. At times
the leading is like a faint voice; at other times, as in this
case, the Spirit gives very specific instructions as to what
He wants us to do.
when God sends us, we need to go. “So he got up and
set out.” (v.27a). We are commissioned, the Church exists
to do mission, and God depends on His people to bring in His
harvest. So when we are sent, we must go. Without delay. We
must not miss the opportunity already prepared by God.
if people are to know Christ, they must know the Bible. St.
Jerome says that ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance
of Christ. Thus the Church is to teach not just about virtues
and the Christian life, but must base much of those teachings
on the Bible. Unfortunately many Catholics do not know the
Bible. Some do know about the Bible, but mainly do not understand
it. “Do you understand what you are reading?”
(v.30). Others understand at least the surface meaning but
are not able to grasp the profound truths of God, and thus
need instruction. “How can I, unless someone instructs
me?” (v.31a). Still others do not actually live out
its prescriptions. Whatever the case, the Bible is crucial
to the life of a Christian.
due to the critical importance of the Bible, our preaching
of the gospel has to be based on the word of God. “Then
Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this scripture
passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him.” (v.35). While
much of Catholic formation is indeed based on the Bible, there
is often no direct reference or quoting scripture passages
in Christian education or catechism. But Catholics need to
actually get into the Bible, to actually take that book and
read it. Thus our LCS is heavy on the word of God, and often
becomes the catalyst for a Catholic to start actually reading,
studying and meditating on the word of God.
the preaching of the gospel, as a person is introduced to
Jesus, should lead to a desire to enter into faith in him.
“Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?”
(v.36-37). To meet Christ is to desire to live Christ.
The proclamation of the gospel is intended to lead people
to repentance and faith in Jesus.
oftentimes, especially as we utilize our one-day 5-session
LCS, we may be concerned that this is not enough and much
more is needed. Certainly. But everything starts with the
kerygma. We are merely planting a seed. And there
are others, especially in the parish setting, that will provide
teaching, formation, catechesis, deepening, etc. We in LCSC
are tasked with the massive proclamation of the gospel. Oftentimes,
after we do so, we move on. But the seed is already planted.
There is already new life and a new joy in the gospel. “When
they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched
Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued
on his way rejoicing.” (v.39). A person through repentance
and faith has been restored to a relationship with God, God’s
grace has been given, empowerment has been imparted through
the baptism in the Spirit, tools to continuing growth have
been provided, and so a person who has finished the LCS hopefully
will continue on his way. And do so with great joy.
evangelization must be our lifestyle, mindful of the commission
of Jesus to reach the ends of the earth and make disciples
of all the nations. “Philip came to Azotus, and went
about proclaiming the good news to all the towns until he
reached Caesarea.” (v.40). Our work in never done, until
the Lord returns once again.
is a lay response to the call to the New Evangelization. It
is intended to do rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization.
It is intended to mainstream Catholic lay evangelization,
so that the Church would truly become the missionary body
that God intended for her to be.
 The oldest and best manuscripts of Acts omit this verse
37. This says, “And Philip said, ‘If you believe
with all your heart, you may.’ And he said in reply,
‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”
 A deeper life in Christ, greater appreciation of the scriptures,
incorporation and service into the Church.