THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
BACK TO BASICS
Today’s gospel: Mark 1:29-39
The New Evangelization requires a re-focus on what is the
essential and foundational mission of the Church. Evangelization
itself is not new, being almost 2,000 years old, with the
same message of salvation in Jesus. But after 2,000 years,
after the Church has grown tremendously (Christians make up
1/3 of world population), Christians today are doing many
things but not necessarily what is the most basic. Christians
today do many good things but miss out on the essence of Christian
today do a massive work with the poor. Christians today oppose
unjust governments and try to take temporal power in order
to make positive changes. Christians today work hard to make
nations First World in order to eliminate poverty. However,
Jesus did not come to liberate the poor from material bondage
(though he did come to bring good news to the poor); he is
not a social worker. Jesus did not come to achieve political
power and governance (though he is the King of kings); he
is not a political revolutionary. Jesus did not come to make
the poor rich (in fact he told soldiers to be satisfied with
their wages); he is not an economic manager. What he did during
his public ministry was “he went into their synagogues,
preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.”
preached the good news of the kingdom of God. He evangelized.
This was the reason why the Father sent him. “Let us
go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.” (Mk 1:38). Together with
this, he drove out demons. Evangelization involves us in spiritual
warfare. We come against the forces of the enemy, who is totally
against God and God’s plan for humanity, and who is
the one who enslaves God’s people.
“cured many who were sick with various diseases, and
he drove out many demons” (Mk 1:34a). Serious illness
is a disorder from God’s natural order, where we are
created in His image and likeness and are to enjoy the fullness
of life in Him. It ultimately is the result of sin (our own
or those of others that affect us), a world that has abandoned
God’s wonderful plan (thus wreaking havoc on nature
and natural God-designed relationships), and the enslaving
action of the devil. The work of demons manifests itself in
How about the poor? One can live a wonderful life in Christ
despite material poverty. In fact, often those who are far
from God are the rich. Thus, while Jesus ordered his disciples
to preach the gospel to every creature, he said that the poor
will always be with us. Does that mean God is not concerned
about poverty? He is, and in fact God’s covenant includes
prosperity as a basic aspect. But God looks to us
to provide for the needs of the poor. If we share our resources,
then there will be no one in need, as the first Christian
community after Pentecost already experienced.
about unjust or oppressive governments and taking political
power (supposedly in order to do good)? Jesus had all the
power and could have called on more than twelve legions of
angels to protect him but he did not. Rather he emptied himself
and took the form of a slave. Paul, living under the Roman
government oppressing Christians, would later instruct Christians
to be subordinate to government.
about becoming First World? Well, the so-called First World
nations are now those very far from God, while those in developing
nations, those even who are oppressed, are the most committed
Christians around. Indeed, Timothy would later caution Christians
against wanting to be rich, as the love of money is the root
of all evils.
is not to say that Christians should not help the poor or
work for good political governance or strive to better themselves
economically. We should do so. We should animate the temporal
order. We should bring God’s righteousness and justice
into every aspect of life in this world. We should look to
enjoying the bounty of what God has provided in this world.
But we should not neglect our basic mission, that of evangelization.
Or worse, we should not help the poor or work for good government
or strive for economic well-being while violating the very
faith we profess. This happens for example when Christians
agree and support reproductive health in their desire to help
the poor, or when Christians resort to politicking or corruption
in order to take political power, or when Christians steal
or defraud or be greedy in order to have more money.
If we are focused on what is most essential, then everything
else should fall into place. When we neglect what is most
essential, then whatever good we desire or try to do could
easily lead us astray, and we end up opposing Christ and his
mission. Our basic work is spiritual, not social, political
Jesus drove out demons, he did not permit them to speak because
they knew him (Mk 1:34b). Jesus did not want them to announce
his lordship because his time had not yet come. But the demons
“knew him.” How many Christians today really know
Jesus? How many have a deep, intimate, personal relationship
with him? How many know what Jesus calls them to doto
love God with their whole being, to love their neighbor as
themselves, and to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect?
How many realize the importance of evangelization to the heart
of Jesus? Unfortunately, many know about Jesus, and
go about working in his name, but miss out on what is most
important to him.
did not permit the demons to speak. But Jesus not only permits
us to speak, but he commands and commissions us to speak.
We are to preach about the kingdom of God. We are to proclaim
the good news of salvation in Jesus. We are to assault the
kingdom of darkness.
is what the New Evangelization is all about.