FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
GROWTH IN FAITH AND NUMBERS
April 30, 2016
Today’s reading: Acts 16:1-10
“Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.” (v.5). Growth in numbers and growth in faith go together. This is because our Church is a missionary church. When we are evangelizing widely and massively, then we become stronger, since we are doing what God wills us to do. When we stop or slow down on evangelization, then we grow weaker. The irony of this is that some reason out that they should focus on formation in order to be stronger in faith before going out to evangelize widely. Most communities and groups, as well as the whole Church, that do that only end up weaker.
The early Church grew in faith and membership day after day. Her missionaries “traveled from city to city” (v.4a). It was a deliberate day-to-day effort. It was a preoccupation. It was a way of life. It was according to how God intended it to be.
The work of evangelization is the work of the Holy Spirit, done in and through us. The Spirit leads us in the way we are to go. We are to be docile to the Holy Spirit. At times the missionaries Paul and Timothy “had been prevented by the holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them, so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas.” (v.6-8). At times we are disappointed when people or parishes do not respond positively. But the Holy Spirit might have His own direction or priorities, pointing us to something much better.
What is important is to persist in evangelization. The world needs the gospel. Just as with Paul’s vision, we must see and hear the unspoken plea of many peoples and places: “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (v.9). When the Spirit inspires us, we must act with urgency. As with Paul and Timothy, they “sought passage to Macedonia at once” (v.10a). We would be right in “concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.” (v.10b).
Onward to the New Evangelization!
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