THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
NOT UNDERSTANDING THE NEW EVANGELIZATION – 3
June 9, 2019
1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13
Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. This is when the
Holy Spirit, according to the promise of the Father, was poured
out on the disciples. It was an exciting event. “And
suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving
wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then
there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and
came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled
with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:2-4).
The infilling of the Spirit was empowerment for mission, and
we know that Peter went on to preach one sermon where 3,000
people were converted.
New Evangelization is a prophetic call of the Holy Spirit
especially for these times, where the world is deeply enveloped
in darkness and sin. The world, including our Church, is being
overwhelmed by a tsunami of evil. Thus God has launched His
counter-move. It is the New Evangelization. But the problem
is that many Catholics have not heard about this call, and
many, including clerics, do not understand what this call
is all about.
people do not understand that the peace they long for (absence
of strife and presence of right relationships among humankind)
can only be found in Christ. There has to be conversion of
heart, if the world is to be rid of immorality, poverty, criminality,
corruption, terrorism, environmental degradation. How will
this conversion of heart happen? Through the work of evangelization,
which leads people to meet and know Christ, and start to live
Christ. Thus Jesus, who won salvation (which is the fullness
of the experience of peace) for all, commissioned his disciples,
and thus all of us, to continue with his divine work. “Peace
be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
people do not understand that this commission can only be
effectively accomplished, not by our own power, since it is
divine work, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, “when
he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive
the holy Spirit.’” (Jn 20:22). But many Catholics
have only heard of the Holy Spirit but do not really know
Him or His role. But the Holy Spirit is the agent of evangelization,
“and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except
by the holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:3b). And in order for
us to be effective witnesses, we need to be filled with and
empowered by the Spirit. This happens through an adult experience
of baptism in the Spirit.
with the infilling of the Holy Spirit come spiritual gifts.
Each one is given a gift. “To each individual the manifestation
of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1 Cor 12:7).
These gifts are necessary equipment for members of the Church
so that the whole Church can do an effective work of evangelization.
But not only do many Catholics not understand and know what
these spiritual gifts are, today they are being marginalized.
See for example the second reading for today. The 9 gifts
of the Spirit (in 1 Cor 12:8-11) are omitted! But after speaking
about the gifts, the Christian community as one body with
many parts is described. Then there is another set of gifts
given (see 1 Cor 12:27-30). The fact that Paul wedges the
Christian community in between the two sets of gifts emphasize
how these gifts are crucial to the proper functioning of the
body, and to its accomplishment of its evangelistic mission.
If Catholics today do not know these gifts, how can they exercise
them? If they don’t exercise them, how can the mission
of the Church be accomplished? Is this one reason why our
Church, busy with so many different things but not so much
mission, is so badly situated today?
there seems to be a distaste among many prelates and clerics
on the charismatic dimension of our faith. Charismatics are
routinely derided as Pentecostals. Some clerics are insisting
that our programs (such as the CLS or LCS) not contain the
charismatic dimension. This is a failure in understanding
the work of the Spirit. Indeed, on that day of Pentecost,
the pilgrims in Jerusalem were astounded and bewildered when
they heard “them speaking in our own tongues of the
might acts of God.” (Acts 2:11b). Pentecost belongs
to our Church. Tongues is a manifestation of the Spirit. And
evangelization can only be done in the Spirit of Pentecost.
Jesus imparted His spirit to His people so that they might
continue with His divine work. “Send forth your spirit,
they are created and you renew the face of the earth.”
(Ps 104:30). The ever-creative Spirit is being poured out
anew on God’s people today, in the call to the New Evangelization.
it is unfortunate that many Catholics do not understand the
New Evangelization and its being rooted on Pentecost. They
say to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts
2:12b). But rather than being led to a conversion of their
thinking and vision, they say, “scoffing, ‘They
have had too much new wine.’” (Acts 2:13). But
what irony! Indeed we are being given the new wine of the
Spirit. We can never have too much of this new wine! But this
wine needs to be put in new wineskins. This is LCSC.