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(Part 230)


December 10, 2017

Today’s readings:
Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11
Psalm 85:9-14
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

The New Evangelization, in being an antidote to the tsunami of evil in the world, is intended by God:

  • To bring about the salvation of God in the lives of people. “Near indeed is his salvation for those who fear him” (Ps 85:10a). God wants everyone to be saved.
  • To bring comfort and consolation to God’s people,knowing that their salvation and liberation are at hand. “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service[1] has ended, that her guilt is expiated, that she has received from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.” (Is 40:1-2). God loves His people and does not want them estranged from Him.
  • To gather the lost sheep and provide care for God’s people. “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, leading the ewes with care.” (Is 40:11). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares for and protects his flock.
  • To manifest the power of God in the lives of people. “Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm” (Is 40:10a). God is the all-powerful King who has dominion over all. He is rightful King over the whole world. Those who put themselves under His reign will experience His protection and bountiful provision.
  • To achieve massive renewal and a complete turning around of the sorry situation in the world today. “Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low; the rugged land shall be a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.”(Is 40:4). God wants total transformation in the lives of His people, bringing them from darkness into His marvelous light.
  • To enable the whole earth to witness the glory of God. “Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Is 40:5a). God works with signs and wonders. All peoples of the earth will bow down before the majesty of God.
  • To bring about the attributes of the Kingdom intended by God­love, truth, justice and peace in the world. “Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.” (Ps 85:11).
  • To prepare the bride of Christ for his second coming. “A voice proclaims; In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” (Is 40:3).

To achieve God’s purposes, His people ought to act according to what and how He intends. Following are fundamental principles of the New Evangelization.

  • A persistent, insistent, massive proclamation of the gospel. “Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of good news! Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!” (Is 40:9a). The missing first step in the whole process of evangelization is the proclamation of the gospel. Everyone needs to hear the gospel of salvation in Jesus.
  • A focus on bringing people to repentance and faith in Jesus. “John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mk 1:4).People must turn away from their sins. There can be no false mercy or political correctness, as repentance is needed for our sins to be forgiven.
  • A renewal of the grace of Baptism and Confirmation through baptism in the Spirit, especially for lapsed Catholics. “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.” (Mk 1:8). Many Catholics have become baptized pagans. They need to be renewed in Spirit. They need to imbibe the spirit of Pentecost as they meet Christ, live Christ and share Christ.

What then must characterize the workers for the New Evangelization?

  • A realization that we are already in the end times and that the work of the New Evangelization is absolutely critical. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.” (2 Pt 3:10). When the end comes, it will be too late for those who have not repented. We must have more workers for the harvest.
  • A growing in holiness. It is not just turning away from sin, but a turning to vibrant faith in Jesus, in pursuit of authentic discipleship. It is to be like Christ. “Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, …. Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.” (2 Pt 3:11,14). God’s people are to walk the path of holiness. They are to live pure. They are to strive for Christian perfection. Further, they must be devoted to the mission. Especially as we go forth to battle enemy forces, we are to be holy warriors.
  • A total reliance on God and boldly doing the work without fear. “Cry out, do not fear! Say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!” (Is 40:9b). God is with us. The power of the Spirit is available to us. We are doing divine work. The enemy has already been defeated. There is nothing to fear.

God sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord. “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.” (Mk 1:2b).Today God sends His people to also prepare the way for the Lord, for the second coming of Jesus. “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” (Mk 1:3). We are to be heralds of the gospel.

The work is urgent because we are already in the end times. We of course do not know when Jesus will return. It might be soon or it might be much later. Know “that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.”(2 Pt 3:8b). But every day before Jesus comes again is the opportunity to bring people to Christ. God does want everyone to be saved. “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay,’ but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pt 3:9).For us, we just need to know that there is no time that we should waste or lose.

In all this we have a bonus. Our growing in holiness and our devotion to God’s work can hasten the return of Jesus. When everyone has had the opportunity to hear the gospel, then the end will come. We must all be eagerly “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Pt 3:12a).

Onward to New Evangelization!

* * *

[1] Servitude.

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