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(Part 220)


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.

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