THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE BAPTISM OF THE GENTILES EXPLAINED
Today’s reading: Acts 11:1-18
Sometimes, even as we are anointed by God for His work, even
as we are trying to zealously pursue our mission, we can remain
blind to the radical directions of God, and remain steadfast
(stubborn) in our own ideas and agenda.
since the early Church saw their mission as only to the Jews,
even as “the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God”
(v.1), the circumcised believers confronted Peter for reaching
out to the Gentiles (v.2-3). They were vehement in their opposition
to what he had done.
did not Jesus tell them to go after the lost sheep of Israel?
Yes, but he also empowered them with the Spirit to be witnesses
not only in Jerusalem but also in Samaria and to the ends
of the earth. They just had to go first to the Jews because
those were the core of the people of God, and they would eventually
form the core for the Christian Church.
Peter, anointed by God to lead the Church as the first pope,
had been given a vision (v.5). It was of various animals forbidden
by law to be eaten (v.6), and he was told to eat them (v.7).
Being a devout Jew, Peter of course objected (v.8). God had
to tell him pointedly, due to his intransigence, “What
God has made clean, you are not to call profane.” (v.8).
Peter still resisted (v.9-10). God had to send three men (Gentiles)
from Caesarea to summon him (v.11-12). The one who sent the
men, Cornelius, had himself been given a vision by God, that
Peter was to be summoned so he could speak words of salvation
to them (v.13-14).
had Peter began to speak, when “the holy Spirit fell
upon them as it had upon us at the beginning” (v.15).
They were “baptized with the holy Spirit.” (v.16).
And the Church continued to grow rapidly.
Now take our case in CFC-FFL. We were raised and are called
by God to be an evangelistic and missionary community. We
have been obedient to God for over 3 decades. But, perhaps
given our “success,” we have also become complacent
and perhaps a bit arrogant. Now our evangelization has stalled.
But that was God’s way of leading us to LCSC.
after over 3 years, some (many?) of our brethren including
leaders are still not fully accepting the vision, insisting
on old ways (like recruitment into CFC-FFL). This is despite
the fact that for over three years, I have “explained
it to them step by step” (v.4).
has given us a vision for truly rapid and massive evangelization
in this third millennium. It is also a vision for mainstreaming
Catholic lay evangelization, to help the parishes to have
an effective “methodology” of doing the missing
first step of the proclamation of the gospel of salvation
in Jesus. It is a radical vision. While Church groups and
parish ministries are often self-referential, resulting in
disunity and even competition, LCSC is at the service of the
Church through the parishes, intended for all parish ministries
and organizations to participate in, without negatively affecting
their own respective works and services.
it seems that as God tells us to “Get up” and
do this work, we say, “Certainly not, sir, because”
nothing like that has ever been done by us. Hear what God
tells us: “What God has” directed us to do, “you
are not to” resist. We are being self-referential when
we think only in terms of adding to our membership, rather
than burning with zeal for the proclamation of the gospel,
so that many more, especially lapsed Catholics, will be brought
back to God and back to the Church.
In the LCS what we do is the kerygma, the apostolic
proclamation of the gospel of salvation in Jesus. It is the
missing first step in the work of evangelization. The Church
has so much to offer, but unfortunately people are just not
there to partake of the feast. Thus, in order to reach people
and let them meet Christ once again, we invite them to the
LCS. Here we “speak words to (them) by which (they)
and (their) household will be saved.” (v.14).
such proclamation have to be an elaborate process? Does it
have to be for 9 weeks? Well, Peter proclaimed one sermon
in one day, without PowerPoint, and 3,000 persons accepted
the good news!
know this. God is eager to pour His Spirit out upon His people,
so that they can experience the salvation won by His Son Jesus
for us all. The harvest is rich but the laborers are few.
If only those called respond to the call and allow themselves
to be sent (to be “apostles”), then there will
be a massive harvest. God depends on us to proclaim the gospel,
and when we allow ourselves to be used, then God equips and
empowers us. The harvest is prepared. Let God surprise us
as He surprised Peter. “As I began to speak, the holy
Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning”
(v.15). Peter had just began to speak! God is impatient to
bring salvation to all.
Why are many Catholics today living not as Christians but
as pagans? They have been baptized with water sacramentally
and have received the Holy Spirit. But God never forces Himself
on us. He does everything for our good, but we need to respond.
We need to repent (metanoia) and accept Jesus as
Savior and Lord. Then we need to renew our baptismal commitment,
now as adults who are making a decision for Jesus. Then we
are prayed with for the baptism in the Spirit, for a renewed
infilling of the Holy Spirit. “John baptized with water
but you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.” (v.16).
who have met Christ and are living Christ need to share Christ.
This is what we have been doing for over three decades in
CFC-FFL. But now God wants that same work, with the attendant
blessings, for everyone, including those who will not become
members of CFC-FFL. This is the LCSC movement. “If then
God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to
hinder God?” (v.17). It is not right to hinder God’s
work, or to not respond to His clear call to the New Evangelization.
What would I really like to happen? Especially for our leaders,
especially for our seniors, as they are the ones tasked with
caring for the members and moving our life and mission forward.
“When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified
God, saying, ‘God has then granted life-giving repentance
to the Gentiles too.’” (v.18).
is much work to be done, especially as we hurtle along to
2021, the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the
Philippines. Thence it will be as we hurtle along to 2033,
as the whole Church celebrates two millennia of Christianity.
we get really moving?
In the same way, before the Catholic Church (which is the
one, true Church) can be God’s light to the world, the
nominal and non-practicing Catholics need to first be brought
back to God and back to the Church.
 Or for that matter, by other Church groups and organizations.
 I have nothing against using modern methods. And I do
need a mike which Peter did not have.
 For an expanded explanation of this, read about “baptism
in the Spirit” in the book “Renewing the Face
of the Earth.”
 Actually it should be 2029 or a bit earlier, but that
is another story. See Appendix E on “A Note on the Millennium”
in the book “Bringing Glad Tidings to the Poor.”