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(Part 8)



October 10, 2012
Today’s reading: Galatians 2:1-14

The New Evangelization is a return to the evangelistic life and lifestyle of the early Church, with its ways of doing things that today are no longer being done. The Church has always been a missionary church, and she has always had her missio ad gentes. When the Church did the work according to the direction of the Holy Spirit, the work prospered, and the light of Christ shone bright. When those in the Church veered away, there were serious problems, and darkness prevailed in the world.

Today there is a need to focus on evangelization within the Church, so that she can do evangelization outside the Church. The effectiveness of her work to reach pagans depends on the strength and vitality of her members.

What does the Roman Catholic Church face today? There is not only those outside assaulting her, but there is the enemy within, the dissidents who oppose the official teaching of the Church. These are “the false brothers secretly brought in” (Gal 2:4a). They include both clergy and laity. They are bishops, theologians, nuns, Catholic school heads, parish staffers. They are those who are for reproductive health, contraception, divorce, abortion, same-sex union. They undermine the truth of the gospel and weaken the Church.

What must the hierarchy and we do?

First, we must ensure that the gospel we preach is the authentic gospel, not a watered down gospel, not a gospel of prosperity or social liberation, not a New Age gospel. Our aim should be “that the truth of the gospel might remain intact for you.” (Gal 2:5b). For this we look to the Pope and the Church Magisterium. Like Paul who went up to Jerusalem to seek Cephas, we look to Rome and Peter (the pope), and ought to be able to say, “I presented to them the gospel that I preach to the Gentiles so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain.” (Gal 2:2b).

Second, we must stand firm for the faith and the authentic gospel, as “to them we did not submit even for a moment” (Gal 2:5a). We do not just silently accept error in preaching, teaching, counseling. We are willing to confront false teaching, whether from a Catholic theology professor, or a parish priest, or a nun, or a lay leader, or even a bishop. Or even the pope! Paul did this to the first pope, Peter. “And when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.” (Gal 2:11).

Further, we stand firm against pagan authorities that seek to deprive us of our religious freedom and subjugate us under a godless yoke. Such is the direction of Western governments, like the USA under Obama and the European nations. In their persistent thrust to impose socialist secularism, they are removing our right to pray, to raise our children our own way, to refuse to act against our conscience, to speak out against ungodly practices. These are being done in supposedly Christian nations, by Christian/Catholic government officials. These have “slipped in to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, that they might enslave us” (Gal 2:4b). We must resist with all our might. We must boldly affirm that “to them we did not submit even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain intact for you.” (Gal 2:5). This is about our faith, the truth, the authentic gospel, and the integrity of our witness.

Third, we must not be afraid and just go along with what is wrong teaching. We must not be timid or reluctant to offend others if we speak the truth forcefully. We must not just let the dissidents lord it over parishes and groups, continuing to spread their false teaching. Let us not do as Cephas did: “when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised.” (Gal 2:12b). Let us not just fade away in the background, minding our own business, but rather face up to the situation, knowing we are minding the Lord’s business.

We are all called to truth, orthodoxy and boldness. We are called to be vigilant in the defense of the authentic gospel. “But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all, ....” (Gal 2:14a).

Such is the New Evangelization. For too long, the dissidents and liberals have lorded it over parishes, especially in Western nations. Those in authority have not spoken authoritatively about the authentic faith. The consciences of many Catholics have not been formed well. Many so-called Catholics are so in name only, and are not even truly Christian.

The work of evangelization is empowerment to be Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. It is proclaiming the good news to Catholics, to our separated Protestant brethren, and to the pagans of the world. It radiates from the center outwards, with Christ and his authentic Church at the center. The effectiveness depends on how strong the center is.

And so it is that we face a challenge in our Catholic Church, because we are infested with dissidents. The enemy is within. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Many are being led astray and devoured by the enemy. Catholics who are true Christians are in the minority. The rest are nominal, lapsed, fallen away, lie low, inactive, taken by cults and sects, or dissident. The New Evangelization targets them all.

The missio ad gentes of the Roman Catholic Church targets not just pagans, but also baptized pagans. Not just non-Christians but also so-called Christians. We have “been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as .... to the circumcised” (Gal 2:7).

In addition, the New Evangelization is about building the Church of the Poor. The very mission of Jesus is to bring glad tidings to the poor. A great majority of the world’s population are poor, deprived of their rightful share in the goods of the world provided by God. The New Evangelization is about God’s promises to His people, the bestowing of life to the full, a life of justice, peace and prosperity. These can only happen if we are “mindful of the poor” (Gal 2:10a).

There is much to be done. Let all authentic Catholics put together “their right hands in partnership” (Gal 2:9c), united in heart and mind in pursuit of this wonderful work of the New Evangelization.

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