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(Part 236)


May 10, 2018

Today’s readings:
Acts 18:1-8
Psalm 98:1-4
John 16:16-20

The New Evangelization looks to the original evangelization for principles that are valid throughout time and cultures.

First, it is all about the mercy of God, who wants all to be saved. The Lord “has remembered his mercy and faithfulness toward the house of Israel.” (Ps 98:3a). Thus God sent His own Son to redeem His people. Then it was Israel, and now throughout history has become the new Israel, those who put their faith in Jesus, the Christians.

Second, in order to reach all, the work of evangelization needs to be rapid, massive and worldwide. God wants no one to be lost. Thus “the Lord has made his victory known; has revealed his triumph in the sight of the nations.” (Ps 98:2). Salvation in Jesus is to be proclaimed to all, to the ends of the earth. We keep at it until “all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” (Ps 98:3b).

Third, there is great urgency in this work. Jesus said to his disciples, “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” (Jn 16:16). The disciples did not understand and said, “What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks? We do not know what he means.” (Jn 16:18). It means two things­to them then and to us now. First, to them then, Jesus will go to the grave but will rise from the dead and appear to them. Second, for us now, Jesus will ascend to heaven but will be back. The disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion were dejected and thought all was lost, but greatly rejoiced in the glory of his resurrection. Today the world is in darkness and our Church greatly challenged, with many losing hope and falling away, but there is hope, because Jesus will return in glory. In the meantime, we must prepare ourselves and the whole world for his second coming. Remember it will be just a little while before Jesus returns.

Fourth, due to the urgency, we must be preoccupied with the proclamation of the gospel, and working such that our Church regains her missionary spirit. We are to be as zealous as Paul, who “began to occupy himself totally with preaching the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus.” (Acts 18:5b). There is much work to do, and one problem is the lack of workers.

Fifth, we focus on the proclamation of the gospel, the kerygma, the missing first step in the whole process of evangelization. We are sent, we preach the gospel, people hear and believe, they call on the name of the Lord and are saved. This was what happened to Crispus and the Corinthians. “Crispus, the synagogue official, came to believe in the Lord along with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians who heard believed and were baptized.” (Acts 18:8). Faith comes from what is heard. With hearing, there can come belief, and with faith will come baptism and integration into the Church. Without the initial proclamation of the gospel, then nothing can follow.

Sixth, know that there will be opposition and persecution. Those who ardently proclaim the gospel will face challenges and suffering. In reaction to Paul’s preaching, the Jews “opposed him and reviled him” (Acts 18:6a). Remember that we are into spiritual warfare, assaulting the very gates of hell. But suffering for Christ is always salvific.

Seventh, we look to proclaim the gospel and when rejected, we move on. There are many mission fields and opportunities. We never give up. When rejected, Paul “shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your heads! I am clear of responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” (Acts 18:6b). It is up to every person to respond to the gospel. If they do not, they suffer the loss of their souls. But it is our responsibility to proclaim the gospel, so that they will have the opportunity to hear it. If we do not share Christ, we are accountable to God.

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