FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
HAVING EARS TO HEAR
November 18, 2014
Today’s reading: Revelation 3:1-22
“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (v.6,13,22). Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to our community in particular and to the Church in general. What is that? We have all been called to the New Evangelization. OK, but what do we do? Many in the universal Church and in the parishes are still awaiting the answer.
But for us, the Holy Spirit has already revealed to us what we are to do. It is LCSC. How do we know that this is actually the Spirit’s leading? For us in CFC-FFL, it is the leading given to the founder, who is the holder of the charism. For the Church in the Philippines, it is the stamp of approval given by the CBCP in accepting LCSC as the legacy for the Year of the Laity. For the universal Church, LCSC is not yet that well known (though already started in 10 other countries). But if it is any indication, here is what one bishop of a nation in Oceania said, upon hearing of LCSC for the very first time: “You must be God-sent for I have been praying and waiting for this.”
What can we learn from what John writes to three churches in today’s reading?
“To the angel of the church is Sardis” (v.1a): “I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (v.1c). So it is with the Church, for example, in the Philippines. We have the reputation for being a strong Catholic nation, with churches full and overflowing on Sundays. But what we see is just a small percentage of all Catholics. The truth is that most are lapsed, and the Church loses Catholics by the day. So it is with CFC/CFC-FFL. Our reputation for good work is far and wide. But it seems that for over a decade now, we have been coasting along on such reputation, clinging to glories past, while our evangelization stalls and our overall numbers keep decreasing (for CFC from 2001; but for CFC-FFL from 2007, our numbers are slowly growing). CFC is not quite dead, but might it be gasping for breath?
What is the way forward? “Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” (v.2). What God had given us in CFC for the last three decades was just preparation for the work of the third millennium. Our works certainly were not complete in the decade of the 1990s, when we did massive evangelization. Now the Spirit has brought us to what will truly be massive evangelization, through LCSC, and in collaboration rather than “opposition” to the Church. CFC has lost much of its shine and glory, especially with the split of 2007, but we must strengthen what is left. This is the remnant that is CFC-FFL.
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia” (v.7a): “I know your works” (v.8a). “You have limited strength, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” We have tried to be faithful to Jesus, although we have not been all that faithful to our covenant. Furthermore, “you have kept my message of endurance” (v.10a). We have endured through the trials and challenges of community life and ministry. We are still here, still doing the work.
So God has something still to work with. Indeed, “behold, I have left an open door before you, which no one can close” (v.8b). This refers to opportunities for sharing and proclaiming the gospel. This is a fundamental call, which is always there for us. We are still to be used as God’s instruments.
Because of our fidelity and endurance, God will be there for us, especially as we enter into the greater challenges of these times, including more severe oppression and persecution. “I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” (v.10b). If God is with us, there is nothing to fear! The crown of glory is assured. This crown can actually only be lost by our own actions and responses. And of course the enemy wants to snatch this crown of glory. Thus we need to become even more steadfast in our resolve to do God’s will and be His instruments. “I am coming quickly. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take your crown.” (v.11).
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea” (v.14a): “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.” (v.15a). We are either for Jesus or against Jesus. We either gather or we scatter. There is no middle road. We cannot be fence sitters. We cannot profess to be evangelizers and missionaries but remain at the Country Club. We cannot give lip service to LCSC but not give it our all-out support. If we are just so-so, what does God say? “So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (v.16).
We must realize that we are sinners, again not just paying lip service to that, but knowing deep in our hearts how far we fall short of God’s glory and His call to holiness and Christian perfection. We need to “realize that (we) are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (v.17b). We desperately need God. So we take hold of “gold refined by fire,” which is the fullness of God’s grace, “white garments to put on,” which symbolize an upright life, and “ointment to smear on your eyes,” which is to remove our spiritual blindness (v.18).
Why does God seem so hard on us? We already responded to the call, and we already have done much service. Well, it is because God loves us so much, and wants so much to use us for His glory. “Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise.” (v.19a). There you have it. So embrace the cross. Rejoice in affliction for the cause of Christ.
What is the Holy Spirit saying to us, in particular to CFC-FFL and in general to the whole Church? Embrace LCSC and do massive evangelization, mainstreaming Catholic lay evangelization in the Church. Endure through the trials and challenges of mission. Embrace the cross of Christ. Grow in holiness.
Jesus has already won the victory, in which we share. Now we just need to endure to the end of time. May what Jesus says to the three churches come to pass. To the church in Sardis: “they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy.” (v.4b). To the church in Philadelphia: “The victor I will make into a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never leave it again.” (v.12a). To the church in Laodicea: “I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.” (v.21).
Let those who have ears hear.
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