FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
AT JACOB’S WELL
March 19, 2017
Today’s gospel: John 4:5-42
Jesus was a great evangelizer, acting as such in whatever situation he found himself in. This time he was passing through Samaria, stopped at Jacob’s Well to rest, and engaged the Samaritan woman in conversation. From this incident we draw seven principles in going about the New Evangelization.
First, we must have a vision for the harvest. “I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.” (v.35b). Jesus won salvation for everyone, the grace of God is abundant, the power of the Holy Spirit is provided. So what else is needed? The harvest is rich; but what are needed are the laborers. We must see the desire of Jesus for all to be saved, and respond accordingly.
Second, seeing the vision of a massive harvest, we must grow in zeal for the mission. It becomes our greatest priority. It becomes our very life. It is more important than our day-to-day sustenance. “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.” (v.34).
Third, knowing the importance of the work, we must be bold in witnessing. The Samaritan woman, with her encounter with Jesus, became an evangelizer. She was the outcast of the town, having had five husbands and now living with one who was not her husband, and so she came to fetch water at noon, when no one would be there at the well. But now she “left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, ‘Come see a man ….’” (v.28-29a). She was not afraid of rejection. She just boldly went forth to all, inviting them to come and meet Jesus.
Fourth, knowing the extent of the work, we must be totally dedicated, to the point of self-denial. Jesus’ disciples urged him to eat, but he told them that he needed to be about the work of the Father (v.31,34). What could be more important than saving souls? It is hard work, and so dedication and endurance and perseverance are needed.
Fifth, in looking at the massiveness of the work, we must look to the whole Church to participate in the work. The harvest is rich but the laborers are few. We need to look to the various gifts given by the Spirit that enable the whole Church to do a massive work. “One sows and another reaps.” (v.37). One proclaims the gospel, another catechizes, another gives continuing formation, and so on. With everyone participating, we look to mainstreaming Catholic lay evangelization.
Sixth, we collaborate with all workers in the Church, not mindful of recognition, desiring only to get the overall work done. We build on the work of others and vice versa. “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.” (v.38). If others benefit from our labors, then praise be to God.
Seventh, we never lose sight of the reality that what we do is God’s work, that we are His instruments, that we depend totally on His power. Thus we remain intimately rooted in him. We enter more deeply in our relationship with Him. We pray and we worship. We “worship in Spirit and truth.” (v.24b). We rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance, inspiration, zeal and endurance.
What will be the result of all the above? Just like what happened with the Samaritan woman and the townspeople, “many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified” (v.39a). The Samaritan woman shared Christ; the townspeople met Christ; they believed and accepted him as Savior and Lord. As they themselves testified, “we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.” (v.42b).
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