FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
A NEW WINESKIN FOR THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
January 15, 2018
Today’s gospel: Mark 2:18-22
How does this parable of Jesus apply to the new situation of the world and of the Church today? Jesus says, “Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” (v.22).
Let us define our terms.
The new wine is the fresh and ever-creative work of the Holy Spirit in moving the Church to accomplish her mission in today’s world environment. This work is the New Evangelization. The wineskin is the way our Church goes about her mission. In includes ways of thinking, behavioral patterns, accepted practices and directions.
What are the ways of our Church that make up the old wineskin that cannot handle the new wine? They are the following:
- Not seeing and giving evangelization the top priority that it deserves. Evangelization for many is just one of the many things the Church does, and is just one of the varied ministries of the parish. But evangelization is the raison d’etre for the Church. She exists for mission. Being just one of the many, evangelization can be easily neglected, or at the very least not given the time, energy and attention it ought to have.
- Not having a mindset of rapid and massive evangelization, with particular focus on the proclamation of the gospel. There are evangelistic programs and activities, but these are not done massively enough to be able to rapidly reach all the lost sheep, which comprise 99 of the 100.
- The methodology of Pentecost has been lost. Evangelization is a work of the Holy Spirit, done in the power of the Spirit, with the tools and gifts that the Spirit gives. This was the way with the early Church, from the time when the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples at Pentecost. This entails so-called charismatic spirituality. Now charismatic spirituality has become a fringe activity in the Church, rather than mainstream.
- Not fully appreciating lay empowerment. The Church has always looked to and called for lay empowerment, the awakening of the so-called sleeping giant. But many of those in authority in the Church see the laity as indeed being involved, but mainly in doing services, such as lay minister, parish work, social justice, etc. (which are great services, by the way). And the laity see themselves as just instruments of service to clerics in the Church. But the call to lay empowerment is a call to the fullness of the ministry of Jesus, that of priest, prophet and king.
- Not going into the grassroots in the peripheries. Most parish services are centered in the main parish, and parishioners need to go there to avail. But the Church needs to go out to the people where they are, especially in the situation of developing nations, where there are a lot of poor people. As it is, we are losing Catholics by the day, and they are being taken not just by the world, but by sects and cults that are aggressive in the grassroots.
- There is a failure in servant leadership. There are many Church leaders, both cleric and lay, who take on the mind of the world regarding leadership. This might be with regard to authoritarian rule, lack of availability to the flock, looking to acclaim and reputation, lack of accountability, political correctness, etc. What the leader needs to be is an authentic servant, one who is there not to serve but to serve, and even to give one’s life as a ransom for the many.
- Lack of preaching on holiness. The basic call of the Christian is to holiness, to be holy as God is holy. To not strive to be holy is to more easily fall backward or even to fall away. Lay Catholics today still do not even read or study the Bible. The call of the New Evangelization is for holy warriors.
- Not preaching about and not embracing the cross. The authentic and only gospel is the gospel of the cross. It certainly is not the prosperity gospel. But many Christians have embraced the latter. One hardly hears priests and pastors preaching about the gospel of the cross, the embrace of which is the only way to authentic discipleship.
But the old ways (the old wineskin) were effective before, were they not? Actually, with regard to evangelization and mission, the ways of our Church today are no longer fully the ways of the early Church. And the situation has become more challenging due to a number of developments in the world and in society, that causes the call to the New Evangelization.
These developments are:
- Rapid ascension of the Internet and social media.
- An age of sexual licentiousness, including the advance of gender ideology.
- The culture of death incessantly and relentlessly assaulting faith, family and life.
- Rise of secular humanism, becoming pervasive in societies throughout the whole world.
- The more aggressive work of sects and cults.
- Growing apostasy among Christians.
- Entry into the Church of the enemy within, with liberals/progressives who are into heterodoxy.
Thus, for some time now, the Catholic Church has been shrinking and losing her dominant position in many countries. In the last few decades, what started as a trickle has become a flood. When Jesus returns, will he still find faith on earth?
God of course is not asleep or unconcerned. When the Church is low, God sends waves of renewal to revive and strengthen His Church. God still wants all humankind to be saved. This is why in this third millennium, the Holy Spirit is calling the Church to the New Evangelization. But the challenge is the new wineskin.
What will this new wineskin be like? It will stress the following principles:
- Evangelization and mission as the primary and topmost mission of the Church. It must be rapid and massive, insistent and persistent, reaching the grassroots at the peripheries.
- Emphasis on the calls to discipleship, servant leadership, holiness and the cross.
- Lay people taking on Christ’s ministry as priest, prophet and king.
- A return to the methodologies of Pentecost.
The new wineskin is not just a new program or a new set of programs. Rather, it is a total approach and mindset, that has a clear vision for what is needed and how it is to be accomplished. It ought to be a concerted effort by the whole Church.
A new wineskin is the Live Christ, Share Christ (LCSC) mission.
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