THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
PRINCIPLES OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
Today’s gospel: Matthew 9:35-10:8
Knowing that he would go on to the cross and then to heaven,
but with the salvation he would win on the cross needing to
be proclaimed, Jesus formed his core group, as he “summoned
his twelve disciples” (Mt 10:1a). Jesus was laying the
foundation for the work of evangelization.
would be the foundational principles of the work of evangelization?
“the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few”
(Mt 9:37). Indeed the harvest would be abundant, for this
is the very work of God, empowered by His Spirit. God desires
that all should be saved, and that is why Jesus went to the
cross. However, God decided to make Himself dependent upon
man, who would be the one sent to proclaim the gospel and
help bring people to meet Christ
and thus merit salvation. Right here is a crossroad, a tipping
point, a make-or-break situation. The harvest is prepared,
but harvesters are needed. If God’s people allow themselves
to be used, then there will be an abundant harvest. If not,
then what God has prepared will remain unreaped. Do we then
understand the great responsibility placed upon us to respond
to God’s call?
as evangelizers we go in the place of Jesus, doing his
work, and we do so carrying his authority. Jesus “gave
them authority .... to cure every disease and every illness.”
(Mt 10:1c). Jesus himself had been “curing every disease
and illness.” (Mt 9:35d). Now it was the disciples’
turn. We, as Jesus’ disciples, are his witnesses, his
ambassadors, his stewards. We must know that this is not our
human work but God’s divine work. If we allow ourselves
to be God’s instruments, then He can use us mightily.
as evangelizers we enter into spiritual warfare. Jesus “gave
them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out”
(Mt 10:1b). The work of evangelization is all about spiritual
warfare. The world is under the dominion of the evil one,
and when we assault his dominion in order to bring his captives
out, then we automatically are engaged in war, as the enemy
will not just cede territory or dominion. We need to put on
the armor of God, and we need to wield weapons of righteousness.
Our own preparation for battle is our growth in holiness and
Christian perfection. We must live Christ.
as more evangelizers needed to be developed, and as God first
works with His own people before using them to reach out to
the world, “Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing
them thus, ‘Do not go into pagan territory or enter
a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house
of Israel.” (Mt 10:5-6). Though Jesus went to the cross
to win salvation for all, and all are children of God (who
are cut off from the Father), if the work was to be rapid,
massive and worldwide, then there needed to
be a particular strategy. So the disciples were first to reach
out to God’s chosen people, the Israelites. Later they
would also reach the Samaritans and then after that the pagans.
work of the New Evangelization would parallel this. Now we
have the new people of God, the new Israel, that is, Christians,
and in particular, the Roman Catholic Church. So we must reach
out first to lapsed Catholics. These are the 99 lost
sheep that make up the Church. From there we can reach out
to our Protestant brethren, and thence do missio ad gentes.
since we are doing God’s work and are only instruments
of God, empowered by His Holy Spirit, then we do the works
that Jesus did, and greater ones than those. Faith
works wonders. “Cure the sick, raise the
dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” (Mt 10:8a).
Often we impede the work of God by looking at ourselves and
seeing how weak and feeble we are. Then we begin to lack boldness.
Then we falter, and ultimately we fail at our task. But we
need to look not at ourselves but on God, the all-powerful
Creator, for whom nothing is impossible. We do not shortchange
God by deciding to work based on what we think we
can do. Rather, in faith we work based on what God is able
to accomplish in and through us.
we evangelize, we participate in the harvest, we share
Christ, because we ourselves have been evangelized
and thus blessed. The gift we have received we are to give
as a gift. “Without cost you have received; without
cost you are to give.” (Mt 10:8b). Out of profound gratitude
to God, out of great love for the One who loved us first and
gave his life for us, realizing the great privilege of doing
the very divine work of God, we must share the good news of
salvation in Jesus. And we are to do so freely, without looking
to any earthly reward or recognition, and in fact giving all
of ourselves to this work.
we are to evangelize with a sense of great urgency. We are
in the end times. What we decide to do will have consequences
on whether a soul makes it to heaven or not. Indeed, Jesus
instructs, “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The
kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Mt 10:7). The
work of evangelization is all about establishing God’s
reign on earth, but more specially, about people experiencing
the fullness of salvation through eternal life in heaven.
It is entry into the Kingdom of God, our eternal home. That
is what life in this world, which is our earthly pilgrimage,
is all about. It is making our way to heaven.
The call to the New Evangelization has been sounded by our
Church through our popes. We are to help renew and restore
the people of God, and thence for the universal Church to
bring the gospel to all. “Jesus went around to all the
towns and villages .... proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom”
(Mt 9:35). The work of the New Evangelization is to be rapid,
massive and worldwide. We are to be empowered
to witness to the very ends of the earth.
us get moving.