THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
ALL IS VANITY
“Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities!
All things are vanity!” (Eccl 1:2). What the ancient
sage is saying is that it is practically useless to exert
all our efforts in life, as nothing really changes. “One
generation departs and another generation comes, but the world
forever stays.” (Eccl 1:4).
might feel this way about our Christian work.
exert much effort in evangelization, but many who come to
Christ later fall away.
We raise and train servant leaders, only to see them later
not live out basic Christian values, whichthey
might even be already teaching others.
We expend money and resources on establishing our work in
other countries, but these communities later disintegrate.
There is much pastoral activity in our Church, but Catholics
are still lost by the day.
We painstakingly build up the body, only to see it wracked
by factionalism and division.
What are we about anyway? Even the good we do will not necessarily
be remembered or appreciated. “There is no remembrance
of past generations; nor will future generations be remembered
by those who come after them.” (Eccl 1:11). Do we labor
in vain? “Most of (our years) are toil and sorrow; they
pass quickly, and we are gone.” (Ps 90:10b).
Now we talk of the New Evangelization. New? “What has
been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun! Even the thing of which we say,
‘See. this is new!’ has already existed in the
ages that preceded us.” (Eccl 1:9-10). Indeed, evangelization
has existed for two millennia. But still, the Spirit calls
us to a New Evangelization. It must be that important.
if what Qoheleth says is true, how relevant is this work that
we say should be massive? Might we not as well occupy ourselves
with other matters, including secular concerns? Well, this
is all about Christ, and he is forever relevant. If I may
paraphrase a verse in the letter to the Hebrews, Jesus Christ
is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What really matters
is Christ. Apostles and evangelists come and go. Prophets
come and go. But Christ is ever fresh and dynamic. Herod had
said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom
I hear such things?” (Lk 9:9a). And Christ will always
be attractive to people. “And he kept trying to see
him.” (Lk 9:9b).
so whatever happens, we simply continue on with the work of
evangelization. And we pray, not to be remembered or appreciated
or exalted, but simply for there to be a great harvest for
the Kingdom. If things are vain in this life, it certainly
will not be vain in the afterlife. If we have to ask the question,
“What profit have we from all the toil which we toil
at under the sun?” (Eccl 1:3), the answer is salvation
and our eternal reward in heaven. And so we simply pray, “My
the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of
our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!” (Ps 90:17).
is the New Evangelization.