ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
GO WITHOUT DELAY
January 25, 2012
We all have our sinful past, some more sinful than others. As such, we were estranged from God and acting against the Kingdom. Such was Paul. He “persecuted this Way to death” (Acts 22:4), ironically while being “zealous for God” (Acts 22:3). Then, someway somehow, God brings about our conversion, though oftentimes not as dramatic as what happened to Paul. We get to really know Jesus, answering our question of “Who are you, sir?” (Acts 22:8a). Then Jesus gives us answers to another question, “What shall I do, sir?” (Acts 22:10a).
As we continue with our life in Christ, as we grow in our faith, we are introduced to another dimension, which many Catholics today are unaware of. That is the Great Commission. We are told by Jesus to do a most important thing by a disciple. “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15). What we have received, we are to give. In the same way that someone helped bring us to Jesus, we then do the same thing for others.
Now this commission is most important, because it is all about salvation. It is not just helping the poor, visiting the sick, giving counsel to the confused, serving in the parish, or the like, which are all important. This work is all about saving souls! “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16a). It is all about saving people from condemnation, as “whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Acts 16:16b).
Now this work is amazing. Why not, since it is the very divine work of God. It may not be as dramatic as the work of the apostles after Jesus, but it is astounding nonetheless. We may not physically drive out demons from the bodies of possessed people in the name of Jesus (Mk 16:17b), but indeed we drive out demons from their domination of the lives of people. We may not “speak new languages” (Mk 16:17c), but our worldwide work results in our evangelization being conducted in very many different languages and dialects in many parts of the world. We may not “pick up serpents” and not be harmed if we “drink any deadly thing” (Acts 16:18a), but we are able to look to God’s protection and healing. We may not just “lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mk 16:18b), but we do experience many instances of physical and emotional healing as we pray over people.
So evangelization is very important and crucial work. And if I may add, very exciting. As God has called us, how then do we prepare ourselves to be effective evangelizers?
First, “regain your sight.” (Acts 22:13b). See Jesus as needing to be at the very center of your life. See your sinful life and repent, rejecting Satan and his ways. See the need in the world, with so many people perishing in their sins.
Second, “know his will” (Acts 22:14a). Know that you are God’s precious child, and that He has a wonderful plan for you. Know the word of God, the Bible, which is our instruction manual as we make our way to heaven. Know that He wants you to be holy as He is holy. Know that He relies on you to bring the good news of salvation to many others.
Third, “hear the sound of his voice” (Acts 22:14c). Pray every day. Continue to work at an intimate relationship with Jesus. Hear him speak to you, in his desire to guide you and bring you closer to himself. Hear him send you forth to proclaim his salvation to others.
Fourth, “be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15). Share the good news with others. Witness silently by your upright conduct, and witness verbally by telling others your experience of Christ. As you yourself have seen and heard, help to open the eyes of others to see Jesus, and let their ears hear the good news.
So there you have it. You have been called, you have been chosen, you will be anointed. So go!
The times are urgent. The soul to be saved is waiting for you. “Now, why delay?” (Acts 22:16a).
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