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(Part 252)


December 7, 2019
Today’s gospel: Matthew 9:35-10:8

The New Evangelization is a return to the old, as we have lost the basic principles that allowed the Church to do rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization. Our Church today is more of maintenance rather than mission. But the defining characteristic of our Church is that it is missionary. In this, we need to rediscover what worked in the past, given such neglected elements today as the call to repentance and metanoia, the baptism in the Spirit, the need for holiness, the empowerment of the laity, the engagement in spiritual warfare, and the sense of utmost urgency.

It is Jesus who commissions us to do the work of evangelization, and so it is Jesus to whom we turn for understanding about our mission. What are important aspects of the work of Jesus?

First, it is doing what Jesus himself did. He was “teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.” (v.9:35b). This is about the work of forming God’s people, the work of evangelization, and the work of total human liberation.

Second, since it is the very work of God done through us, then we as His instruments are delegated His authority. “Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.” (v.10:1). We go forth in the name of Jesus and in the power of his Spirit. We must be bold, forceful and unafraid.

Third, as God loves His people and Jesus came to save them, it is recognizing the dire situation of people in the world today, the vast majority of whom are lost and neglected in their spiritual lives. Many Catholics are lapsed. Jesus suffered a great deal to bring salvation to people, but may today are unsaved. They are in dire need of God’s mercy and deliverance. “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” (v.9:36).

Fourth, since 99 of the 100 sheep are lost and have to be reached, the work is to be massive, intending to reach all. “Jesus went around to all the towns and villages” (v.9:35a). Though churches in the Third World continue to be filled at Masses, the vast majority of Catholics are simply not there. We cannot just expect these Catholics to come to church; we need to go and seek them out in the grassroots at the peripheries.

Fifth, since there are so many to be reached, there is a need for more workers. “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few’” (v.9:37). Those laborers start with those still in the pews. But they have to be given a new vision, from maintenance to mission.

Sixth, as every disciple of Jesus is a potential worker, every disciple is indeed called to participate in the work. No one is excluded, as long as that person turns to Jesus and responds to his call. Among his first apostles were fishermen (Simon, Andrew, James, John), a tax collector (Matthew), a political zealot (Simon the Cananean), a thief (Judas Iscariot) (v.10:2-4).

What then are we to do? This is why we are called Missionary Families of Christ. We are missionary. We are to focus, not just on family renewal, but on doing the very mission of Jesus. We start with ourselves. Every MFC member has to embrace the community vision and mission. Every member is an evangelizer. We continue to “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (v.9:38), but it starts with us.

But since the work is so vast, and since our Church also needs to rediscover her missionary identity, then we have the Live Christ Share Christ (LCSC) mission. The intent of LCSC is to mainstream Catholic lay evangelization, to be able to reach everyone, up to the ends of every town and village, to the very ends of the earth.

Our Catholic Church is the one true Church, but she herself has been weakened, and we continue to lose Catholics by the day. In order to evangelize the world, we need to re-evangelize the lost sheep of our Church. This was the strategy of Jesus himself. “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (v.10:5-6). Then from Jerusalem, on to Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

LCSC is God’s free gift to the Church, given through MFC. By the mercy and grace of God have we been saved. We met Christ, are striving to live Christ, and need to share Christ. Thus we simply serve, without any personal or community agenda, without necessarily promoting MFC, with not necessarily recruiting into our community (we of course do that too), giving our programs free of charge, not expecting stipends when we serve parishes and dioceses. “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (v.10:8b). The work we do is our responsibility and our privilege.

The work we do is spiritual work. The primary goal is the salvation of souls, even as we also look at the material and emotional needs of people, especially the poor. Thus we are to “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” (v.10:8a).

The work is intended to bring Catholics into an intimate relationship with Christ, filled with the grace of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, as we are just pilgrims here on earth, we want all to make it to heaven. Thus we move forward, and “as you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (v.10:7).

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