THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH
Today’s reading: Acts 11:19-26
The Holy Spirit continues to show us His methodology for evangelization,
according to the life of the early Church after Pentecost.
Today we learn five things.
the people of God in Jerusalem “had been scattered by
the persecution that arose because of Stephen” (v.19a).
Something so dire as persecution caused the expansion of the
work of evangelization, as the disciples “went as far
as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch” (v.19b). Today what
is dire is the desperate economic situation of people in developing
nations. This has caused them to go to the ends of the earth,
to developed nations for greener pastures. Now the economic
pastures there are greener, but the spiritual pastures are
almost nil. Thus these migrants have been used by God to spread
the faith, to enliven parishes, and generally to reinvigorate
the church in the western world. These are the Filipinos,
the Indians, the Vietnamese, the Nigerians. They have large
diasporas outside their own countries.
the Holy Spirit uses difficulties and hardships for the cause
of the gospel. The church had started in Jerusalem. Then because
of persecution, the disciples were scattered throughout the
countryside of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1b). Now the disciples
were scattered to the pagan nations. The empowerment of the
Spirit to witness indeed was to result in massive growth,
not just in numbers, but also in territorial presence, ultimately
to the ends of the earth.
the faith was brought to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch not
by the stalwarts such as Peter, Paul or Barnabas, but by unknown
and anonymous “Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however,
who came to Antioch” (v.20a). God can use anyone who
is willing to be used, and in LCSC God does use everyone and
empowers them to witness. LCSC is about massive evangelization,
with LCSs mounted by many throughout the world, and later
by many who themselves come into a life in the Lord through
the LCSC. Unlike other programs or groups where there is basically
a well-trained and experienced core group that mounts the
programs, the methodology of LCSC is easily replicated, allowing
for participation by many, thus resulting in massive evangelization.
the disciples were “preaching the word to no one but
Jews.” (v.19c). They believed the Way was only for Jews.
But the plan of the Holy Spirit cannot be restrained. So some
disciples “began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming
the Lord Jesus.” (v.20b). What is the lesson for us
in CFC-FFL? God can start us one way, then move on to another
way, still achieving His purposes. We have been doing the
CLP/CLS for all these years. We have been bringing those we
evangelize into the community. Now the Lord gives us LCSC,
where we do the LCS and not bring graduates into our community.
Some have a hard time accepting that. But this is God’s
work, not ours. If God shows us a new way of living out our
charism and work of evangelization, then who are we to reject
the first disciples were empowered to witness. “The
hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed
turned to the Lord.” (v.21). Today the Holy Spirit also
empowers God’s people to witness, if only we are docile
to the Holy Spirit and His ways. If we insist on our own ways,
then our evangelization stalls. If we do it the Spirit’s
way, then we are empowered and will bear much fruit. We are
already moving now from the handful in our CLSs to the hundreds
in our LCSs.
LCSC started from the bottom up. It started in one parish.
But now, some dioceses are already taking on LCSC. We look
to the time when the whole Church in the Philippines, and
later on the universal Church, takes cognizance of the work
of LCSC. “The news about them reached the ears of the
church in Jerusalem” (v.22a). LCSC is about the New
Evangelization, the very call of the Church. It is about lay
empowerment and massive evangelization, the very aims of the
church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch, and “when
he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged
them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart”
(v.23). My dear brethren in CFC-FFL, open your eyes and see
what the Lord is doing through LCSC. Recognize the grace of
God there. See how parishes, with their parish priests and
parish leaders, are accepting it. See the big harvest. Consider
the great potential. Rejoice that God has given us in CFC-FFL
the privilege to offer LCSC to the Church. I encourage you
all to get on board, and remain faithful to the Lord in firmness
you “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith”
(v.24a)? Then recognize the work of the Holy Spirit. Then
have faith in what the Lord is unveiling. Then be a good and
faithful servant who will participate eagerly in the work.
If you all do so, then “a large number of people (will
be) added to the Lord.” (v.24b).