THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
EVANGELIZATION THEN AND NOW
May 9, 2017
Today’s reading: Acts 11:19-26
The New Evangelization, focused on nominal and lapsed Catholics,
is more challenging than the original evangelization by the
early Church. Aside from it being harder to re-evangelize
someone who already “knows” the faith and has
rejected or just ignored it, there is also greater and very
active opposition in the world to the Christian faith, even
seeking to destroy it. Then there are the many Catholics that
have become modernists and oppose the established teachings
and pastoral practices of the Church. So there are the enemy
without and the enemy within.
How do we cope? Well,
the methodology of the New Evangelization is the methodology
of the same Holy Spirit, and so we continue to learn from
the book of Acts. What do we learn?
One, our work will
be opposed and the Church will be oppressed. That is a given.
Do not be dismayed but rejoice. But know that God makes all
things work for the good. Because the early Church was persecuted
severely, “those who had been scattered by the persecution
that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus,
and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews.”
(v.19). So persecution caused the work to spread far and wide.
We can become comfortable in our own territorial areas, but
the Spirit wants to reach many more, beyond our borders.
Two, we can become
comfortable in what we know how to do or what we have been
doing all along. Our vision is certainly much narrower than
that of the Spirit. It was the same then, when the Jewish
Christian community resolved to preach only to the Jews. But
what happened? “There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians
among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak
to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.”
(v.20). The mission to the Gentiles was being inaugurated!
And the Spirit was able to touch many more. “The hand
of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed
turned to the Lord.” (v.21). We must always be sensitive
and docile to the new leadings of the Spirit.
Three, even as the
Spirit is doing radical and new things, or perhaps precisely
because the Spirit wants us out of our comfort zones, many
still resist. The Jewish Christian community sent Barnabas
to Antioch to investigate, and possibly rein in the work that
they had not authorized. Fortunately, “he was a good
man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith.” (v.24a).
He approved, “he rejoiced and encouraged them all”
(v.23b). The result? Well, it was indeed the Spirit’s
work, and so “a large number of people was added to
the Lord.” (v.24b).
Now the Church is called
to the New Evangelization. And we in CFC-FFL have been given
LCSC, to give to the whole Church. Unfortunately there are
those who still do not see the vision, or see it but are not
fully embracing it, or perhaps are even opposing it. This
is unfortunate. The Holy Spirit intends to reach many more,
to the ends of the earth, to renew and revitalize our Church,
to bring in a big harvest. But He is just waiting on us.
Are you filled with
the Spirit and faith? Then open your eyes and see the LCSC
vision. Spread your arms and embrace the LCSC mission. Then
go and share Christ, going to the grassroots and peripheries.