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(Part 58)


January 6, 2014
Today’s gospel: Matthew 4:12-25

The New Evangelization is founded on the “old” evangelization which is founded on the mission of Jesus in the world. If we evangelize according to how God designed everything, then we will be fruitful, and the rich harvest will be brought in. How indeed was it according to God’s design?

It starts with the coming of Jesus into the world, according to the plan of the Father. The magi sent by the murderous King Herod were guided by a bright star. The shepherds keeping watch in the darkness of the night were illuminated by the glory of God shining around them. Jesus was born, and “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.” (v.16). We live in a world of sin, death and darkness. But our Savior has come. He is the light of the world.

Jesus began his public ministry at age 30. “From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (v.17). Repentance was a turning away from a darkened world and turning to the light that is Jesus. Repentance and faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord enabled entry into the Kingdom of God.

Now Jesus knew that his work would be continued beyond him. He would accomplish everything needed to bring salvation to the world, but that salvation would have to be preached to all. So he called his first disciples (v.18,21), and he commissioned them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (v.19). He formed his core group, his team.

Jesus went about his public ministry. “He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.” (v.23). He basically did three things: (1) formation, (2) evangelization, and (3) total human liberation. He evangelized, he catechized, and he did social action.

Jesus came and accomplished his mission. Now he is back in heaven, leaving his disciples to carry on with his mission. We are among those disciples, and we as Catholics have now been called to the New Evangelization. How should we see this work?

New Evangelization is centered on Christ. He is the Savior whom we proclaim. People need to meet Christ. This is the first module of our LCSC LCS (actually meet the three persons of the Trinity). In meeting Jesus, people hopefully respond to his love. Their response is repentance and faith, and then living a life in him, manifested in the two great commandments of love of God and love of neighbor, which sum up the whole law and the prophets. People need to live Christ. This is the second module of our LCSC LCS. Then Jesus commissioned his disciples to become fishers of men. All of his disciples are to participate in this work. They are to evangelize. They are to share Christ. This is the third module of our LCSC LCS.

Now Jesus went around to all of Galilee, and he cured all who were sick. Jesus was limited in the extent of what he could do, since he only had about 3 years and he only went around on foot and by boat. But just as he went around all of Galilee, we are to go to all the earth, to the ends of the earth. Just as he cured all who were sick, including both physical and spiritual illness, we are to bring the gospel to everyone. To accomplish this, the New Evangelization should be rapid, massive and worldwide.

God provides the grace and the empowerment. The first disciples of Jesus went on to be great apostles, leading and expanding the work of the Church founded by God on the day of Pentecost. The Church reached the ends of the known civilized world in a few centuries. The work continued to be massive, such that today 1/3 of the whole population of the world is Christian, and Christians are in every nation on earth.

Unfortunately, most of those so-called Christians, perhaps up to 99% of them, are lapsed, nominal, cultural, still in darkness, coopted by the world, or just not becoming the disciples that Jesus intends them to be. They need to re-encounter Christ. This then is the work of the New Evangelization. This then is our work of LCSC.

Jesus at one time sadly said that the harvest is rich but the laborers are few. 1/3 of people in the world have met and have taken on the name of Christ (though for most the meeting has not been a personal life-changing encounter with the living Jesus), but not many are living Christ, and even fewer are sharing Christ. It cannot be this way with us. How should we respond?

We should respond like Simon and Andrew and James and John. When called, the first set of brothers “at once they left their nets and followed him.” (v.20). For the second set of brothers, “immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.” (v.22). If we truly encounter Jesus, if we truly get to know him, if we truly desire to live his life, then we should respond with utter haste, without hesitation, at once, immediately, even leaving everything behind. Yes we are involved in important things, such as family (their father Zebedee) and livelihood (their nets and fishing), which we should not abandon or neglect. But even of greater importance (or at least of equal importance) is the call to share Christ, to participate wholeheartedly in the work of the New Evangelization, to respond to the call to bring in the harvest, to go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to all the nations.

The world is full of those “who (are) sick with various diseases and racked with pain, those who (are) possessed, lunatics, and paralytics” (v.24b). There is mental, physical and emotional illness and pain in the lives of many. There are those in bondage to sin and the evil one. There are those crazed with the hedonistic ways of the world and do not know the ways of God. There are those paralyzed by fear, apathy, loneliness, helplessness, despair. To all of them in Jesus’ time, “he cured them.” (v.24c).

Let us do the work of LCSC with determination, zeal, endurance, perseverance, long-suffering, commitment, and giving our all. Because of what Jesus did, “great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.” (v.25). Because of what the Church will do in response to the call to the New Evangelization, great crowds will once again follow him.

Let us do our share through LCSC. Onward to the New Evangelization!

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