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(Part 14)


November 7, 2012
Today’s gospel: Luke 14:25-33

While the New Evangelization includes missio ad gentes, one of its most important aspects is the re-evangelization of the nominal or cultural Catholic. For the Catholic Church to do its mission to the world, it is necessary that she herself be strong, and a living witness to Christ. This is no longer the case with most Catholics. That is why Christian Europe, whose nations brought the faith to the world (Spain, France, Ireland, Italy), is no longer truly Christian. But it is not just Europe. Many Catholics in the USA re-elected Obama, the most extreme pro-abortion President ever, who has pushed the reproductive health agenda throughout the whole world, including same-sex marriage. If Catholics cannot recognize the abominations of the culture of death, then truly the Church is in deep trouble. Even in the Philippines, seemingly the strongest Catholic nation today, many Catholics support the RH bill, divorce, sex education in schools for the young, gay rights, reproductive health and population control.

If the New Evangelization is to achieve its goal, the Catholic Church will have to clean up her ranks, speak the jarring truth, confront the dissidents including clerics, recover Catholic educational institutions, and preach holiness.

This is where today’s gospel is instructive. Christianity is not just about social action, or feeling good about one’s private faith, or working out just one’s own salvation, or embracing the gospel of prosperity, or being there in the Church whenever it is suitable, convenient, comfortable, useful. Faith in Christ is about total commitment to Jesus and his cause.

What is total commitment?

One, it is not allowing attachment to family to get in the way. Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:26). Jesus does not require us to actually hate our loved ones. In Semitic usage, to “hate” is to “love less.” Thus, if we love God with our whole being as is commanded by Him, then God and His interests are first and foremost. How many times do we let the good aspect of family keep us from being faithful to our covenant and commitments?

Two, total commitment is not allowing possessions to get in the way. Jesus says, “everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:33). Does that mean we give all our possessions away? Well, if we had no family responsibilities we could, just like what Jesus asked the rich young man to do. But possessions are actually given to us by God so that we can enjoy the fullness of life that He desires for us. What Jesus means is that we do not allow possessions or the enjoyment of possessions to get in the way of our commitments to God and His work. We are mere stewards. While God as Father wants us His children to enjoy what He entrusts to us, we also cannot just look to ourselves. That would make us very selfish, thus not Christian at all. What is entrusted to us is first and foremost for the promotion of His Kingdom on earth. Do we then tithe? Do we even given just a small portion of our income for God’s work? When our financial situation improves (job promotion or raise), do we spend the increment on ourselves or increase our financial giving to God’s causes?

Three, total commitment is being ready for hardships, trials, oppression, suffering, persecution and pain. Jesus says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:27). The authentic gospel is the gospel of the cross. The way of God is the sacrificial death of His own Son Jesus. Our way, in following along the footsteps of Jesus, is also to be led to the cross. We are in spiritual warfare, and the enemy will savagely assault us. Are we ready? Do we give up when the going gets tough? Do we get mad at God when we are suffering, rather than seeing that this is His way of purifying and actually strengthening us? On a much lesser scale, do we skip household meetings simply because we are tired, a bit off the weather, busy, or just plain lazy?

In fact, Jesus says that if we do not hate our own life we cannot be his disciple (Lk 14:26). We belong to Jesus, our Master. We are his slaves. We live for God. His cause is our priority. We cannot look to our own comfort, convenience, satisfaction, well-being, preferences, or priority. If fact, when the crunch comes, when the world turns against Christians and governments overtly persecute them (this is what is happening in the USA now), when Christians are forced to violate their religious beliefs (as with Obamacare; like the Maccabeen mother and 7 sons forced to eat pork), then martyrdom will not be far behind.

That is Christianity! That is what the New Evangelization ought to be about! That is the only way Christians can be light and leaven in a world of darkness and evil.

Christians, starting with our brethren in CFC-FFL, ought to do a re-assessment of their commitment (Lk 14:28-32). The way and work are hard and perilous. We do not want to give up. We do not want to veer away. We do not want to be just “nice” people who never confront or speak out against evil.

There is excitement now in the Church about the New Evangelization. I pray that such excitement is founded on reality, knowing what lies ahead as we face the tsunami of evil that is upon the world. Let us have no romantic notions or unrealistic expectations. Let us always fix our gaze on Jesus, there on the cross.

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