THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2013
TURNING LIVES AROUND
Today’s reading: Galatians 1:13-24
As disciples of Jesus we are called to be evangelizers. The
work of evangelization then results in more disciples of Jesus.
Evangelization is the work of proclaiming the faith, and that
faith, when it takes root, will work wonders. We just need
the case of Paul.
Christ turns people around, 180 degrees. It results in radical
transformation. An enemy of God becomes His friend. A persecutor
becomes a defender. “For you heard of my former way
of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond
measure and tried to destroy it” (Gal 1:13). Those who
destroy now build up. Those who scatter now gather. There
is hope for even the greatest sinner, the biggest enemy of
the Church, the staunchest promoter of the culture of death.
we look at someone who is a sinner or far from Christ and
his Church, we must see a child of God who is lost, but who
is created in God’s image and likeness, whom Jesus died
for, whom the Father desires to live forever with Him in heaven.
God calls them, but uses us to manifest that call in concrete
ways. They would not know it, but their soul yearns for God,
taking the very posture of Paul in relation to God, “who
from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me
through his grace” (Gal 1:15).
are they called? Constantly. It is just unfortunate that they
are preoccupied with the world and are not attuned to hearing
God’s call. But somehow God arranges an opportune moment,
often through some calamity or loss or great failure. And
God is “pleased to reveal his Son to (them)” (Gal
1:16a). Then they are ripe for the harvest. But workers are
needed to bring in the harvest. We must be prepared to seize
One who meets Christ and starts to live Christ is also one
who will share Christ. That is but a natural consequence.
When we have experienced the love and beauty of the Lord,
we cannot restrain ourselves from proclaiming him to others.
God is “pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might
proclaim him to the Gentiles” (Gal 1:16a-b). It becomes
a virtuous cycle. The evangelized becomes the evangelizer.
One who has received will be one who will give.
As Christians, we look to God. While we have our bishops and
priests, our community elders, our counselors, our brethren
in the Lord, our basic relationship is with God, whose work
evangelization is, and whose plan we are carrying out. Too
many look to humans they admire, and often they may end up
disappointed due to the failings of those people--a cleric
who commits sexual abuse, a pastor who has extramarital relationships
or who steals money, a community elder who veers away or is
disobedient to Church authority. Now God does give us good
leaders whom we can emulate and follow, but such can never
be in lieu of our directly listening to God in prayer and
following Him in His commands. “I did not immediately
consult flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those
who were apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia and
then returned to Damascus.” (Gal 1:16c-17).
addition to looking first and foremost to God, as Catholics
we look to Peter, the pope. We look to the teachings and traditions
of our apostolic Church. We are obedient to her Magisterium.
Today there are too many dissidents within the Church. There
are too many dissenting voices. Catholics can end up confused.
Their consciences may be malformed by a liberal priest. They
may even end up supporting such abominations as “reproductive
health.” So we must be connected in mind and heart with
Peter, and look to Vatican City (Rome) as the center of our
Roman Catholic faith. “Then after three years I went
up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him
for fifteen days.” (Gal 1:18). You may want to consider
a pilgrimage to Rome once in your lifetime, and see the pope
in his public audience.
Having been evangelized, entering into a personal relationship
with Jesus, firm in our Catholic faith, we are then prepared
to evangelize, to proclaim Jesus and his salvation to the
ends of the earth. “Then I went into the regions of
Syria and Cilicia.” (Gal 1:21).
of us will do our work anonymously. “And I was unknown
personally to the churches of Judea that are in Christ”
(Gal 1:22). We may never be acclaimed on earth. We may never
be thanked even by those we worked to evangelize. But God
will know. After all, our response is exactly according to
His eternal plan for us. We work for the glory of God and
never for our own. Our ultimate reward is in heaven.
Jesus converted Saul directly in a dramatic fashion. Now Jesus
uses us to bring about the conversion of others, often in
not so dramatic fashion. Still it is the same work.
it not be wonderful if the really bad people around got converted
because of our effort? Would it not be grand if the neo-pagans
who are assaulting the Church are transformed into saints?
Could we look to the time when those promoting the culture
of death suddenly become agents of the culture of life? With
God nothing is impossible. Faith works wonders. Would that
in the world, “they only kept hearing that ‘the
one who once was persecuting us is now preaching the faith
he once tried to destroy.’” (Gal 1:23).
us BE.LI.EV.E and go about the work of evangelization.
With great zeal and passion. Let us become “even more
a zealot for (our) ancient traditions” (Gal 1:14b),
the authentic gospel and way of life that has been taught
us by Jesus and the holy Roman Catholic Church over two millennia.
May people be brought to Christ because of us. May all of
us work wonders for the glory of God. “So they glorified
God because of me.” (Gal 1:24).