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(Part 28)


February 7, 2013

Today’s readings:
Hebrews 12:18-24
Psalm 48:2-11
Mark 6:7-13

The New Evangelization is all about spiritual warfare. Those who evangelize are sent to assault the dominion of the enemy. Thus, starting with the Twelve and coming down to us in our day, Jesus “gave them authority over unclean spirits.” (Mk 6:7c). The authority, and corresponding power, are from God, are exercised in the name of God, are intended to accomplish God’s plan and will. Thus it is God Himself at work in and through human instruments. Thus the work of evangelizers should be powerful, and should be accompanied by signs and wonders. “They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” (Mk 6:13).

How awesome indeed is this power and authority? The Korahites sing of the splendor of Zion, the invincible city. God is like Zion, invincible and eternal. “That this is God, our God for ever and ever.” (Ps 48:15a). “God is in its citadel, renowned as a stronghold.” (Ps 48:4). Just the sight of Zion astounded, terrified and put the kings to flight! (Ps 48:6). They trembled, were in anguish, and were wrecked (Ps 48:7-8). “Your right hand is fully victorious.” (Ps 48:11b).

Consider the awesome magnificence of God during the covenant at Mount Sinai. There was “a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words” (Heb 12:18-19). “Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, ‘I am terrified and trembling.’” (Heb 12:21). Then, the Israelites could not even approach the holy mountain lest they die (Heb 12:20b). But now, “you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb 12:22a). And it is awesome! There are “countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect” (Heb 12:22b-23).

Then there is “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.” (Heb 12:24). It is Jesus who shed his blood for us. Unlike the blood of Abel that cried out from the earth for vengeance, Jesus has already paid the price, and his blood cries out from heaven for redemption. It is Jesus who mediates a new covenant by which we can approach and enter into the very presence of God. It is Jesus who sends us forth to proclaim this great news of salvation in him.

It is such a God who backs us up as He sends us into the world to evangelize. Now if God is the great, awesome, all-powerful, eternal King, if God is the one who sends us forth, then we have nothing to worry about when we do His work. He will provide.

Thus, in sending out the Twelve, Jesus “instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick--no food, no sack, no money in their belts.” (Mk 6:8). Why? Is it not prudent to have even just a bit of provision for an unknown journey? Well, what was of utmost importance was faith. It is faith that works wonders. It is belief in the God whom we serve that enables us to act effectively in His stead.

It is the self-emptying that enables God to fill us. It is the total dependence on Him that causes Him to act in and through us. It is having nothing, in effect being nothing, by which we can become everything in experiencing God’s power. It is being humbled by the awesome majesty of God that causes Him to raise us up. It is leaving everything we depend on for life that allows God to provide richly for all our needs.

“They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.” (Mk 6:9). They had to wear sandals so that they could cover more territory, because the work was urgent and widespread. But they did not need a second tunic. It did not really matter how they looked or how they smelled. The beauty of the Lord would shine in them, and their work would be “a sweet-smelling odor to God the Most High” (Sir 50:15d).

How about evangelizers today? We probably would have to have a bit of provision for our missions, but the principles remain the same.

  • We know the God whom we serve, and He is an awesome, all-powerful God.
  • We always have the posture that God is everything and we are nothing, but that He still insists on using us; such is our great privilege.
  • We trust in the One who sends us forth, to provide and care for us and to empower us.
  • We empty ourselves--of personal priorities, of our own agenda, of self-reliance, of sinful pride; we allow God to take total control over our lives and just respond in obedience.
  • We work at having the faith that truly works wonders.

The New Evangelization proclaims the same Christ and the same good news of salvation in him. What is different are the method and the “madness.” We are to be fools for Christ who leave everything behind to serve him, who trust not in our own abilities and resources but only on God, who know that we are nothing apart from empowerment by the Holy Spirit. This is faith. And it is precisely such faith that works wonders.

Might we still hesitate? Perhaps not in going out to evangelize, but in expecting signs and wonder? Then think again. Consider who is sending us and who is empowering us. “Go about Zion, walk all around it, note the number of its towers. Consider the ramparts, examine its citadels” (Ps 48:13-14a). Then, with great confidence, go forth into the world, “that you may tell future generations: That this is God, our God for ever and ever.” (Ps 48:14b-15a).

“So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons” (Mk 6:12-13a).

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