FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
December 3, 2016
Today’s gospel: Matthew 9:35-10:8
The elements of the mission work of Jesus are very much the mainstays of the Live Christ, Share Christ movement. As such, LCSC is very well suited to the call to the New Evangelization. What are these elements?
First, an emphasis on the re-evangelization of lapsed Catholics. Jesus instructed the apostles, “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (v.6). While he had won salvation for all humankind, he wanted to focus first on the people of God. Then later they could focus on everyone else. The unfortunate situation of our Church today is that most Catholics are lapsed and nominal. LCSC intends to reached these lapsed Catholics, the lost sheep (99 of the 100). It intends to help renew and strengthen the one, true Church, that is, the Catholic Church. As the people of God are being renewed, they would be the workers to reach out to everyone else.
Second, a focus on the proclamation of the gospel, which is the missing first step in the whole process of evangelization. Jesus was “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom” (v.35c). Catholics need to hear the authentic gospel, to be evangelized and not just catechized and sacramentalized. Proclamation brings them to meet Christ, and enter into an intimate personal relationship with him.
Third, zeal for the gospel. What motivates the LCSC movement is the great need that is in the world, a world that is in darkness. This is ironic because Jesus has already come and has already redeemed the world. But souls continue to be lost. We take on the heart of Jesus. “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” (v.36). We desire to bring back the lost sheep to the Good Shepherd and to the sheepfold, the Church. In this we are persistent, insistent, persevering. We share Christ.
Fourth, rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization. “Jesus went around to all the towns and villages” (v.35a). If he could have, he would have gone to the ends of the earth. But he did not have to, it would be his disciples who would bring that work throughout the whole world. The intent of LCSC is to reach all lapsed Catholics, all one billion of them. Thus its methodologies have been made simple and easily replicable. Just like with Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, one Life in Christ Seminar (LCS) could reach 3,000 people in one day. Then those who finish the LCS can very easily themselves move on to conduct other LCSs, expanding the circles of renewal exponentially.
Fifth, lay empowerment. Jesus “said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (v.37). Why will the harvest not be abundant, when Jesus has already won salvation for all, when the grace of God is abundant, when the power of the Holy Spirit is available? But what are needed are more and more workers, because there are very many to be reached. Those workers are there, in the parishes, as well as the many others who will join the movement. They need to be re-focused, re-energized, pastorally supported. More and more of the 99.9+% of the people of God that are the laypeople need to be involved in the work, and LCSC is a way of raising and training those workers.
Sixth, formation based in parishes. The workers for the harvest need to be formed. Jesus was “teaching in their synagogues” (v.35b). But there is a general lack of formation in parishes and in Church organizations. So LCSC has its Servant Leaders Formation (SeLF) program, which provides needed teaching and formation to parish workers. Those who meet Christ need to live Christ. They must grow in holiness and discipleship.
Seventh, work with the poor. Jesus was “curing every disease and illness.” (v.35d). The poor are those who fall short of the fullness of dignity as children of God. The poor are those beloved by God. The Church has a preferential option for the poor. Jesus’ own mission is to bring glad tidings to the poor. The judgment of the nations at the end of time will be determined by what one does for the least of Jesus’ brethren. So work with the poor is crucial. LCSC accomplishes this through its No One in Need (NONe) movement. This is a holistic work with the poor, providing moral and spiritual formation, livelihood training, children’s education, shelter and health.
Eighth, engagement in spiritual warfare. Jesus instructed the apostles, “drive out demons.” (v.8b). Once we do evangelization and mission, we automatically engage the forces of darkness, and are thrust into spiritual warfare. The whole world is under the dominion of the evil one, and our work of evangelization, mission and renewal is intended to bring people out of captivity to the devil, and back into the embrace of God. In this work, we wield weapons of righteousness and we put on the armor of God.
Ninth, spiritual renewal. Jesus instructed the apostles, “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers” (v.8a). For the apostles this was literal. While these might still happen today, we look to this instruction as healing spiritual illness, bringing people back to life from the death of sin, and purifying lives and providing restoration to the Church. People are called to live Christ, in holiness and seeking after Christian perfection, in discipleship and a total giving of self to God.
Tenth, the gospel given for free. One principle of LCSC is that our programs are given free of charge. This is unlike expectations and practice in the Church, where stipends are normally given to resource persons. But we do not want money to stand in the way of the gospel. And we are mindful of how Jesus paid the price for our salvation. It is God’s free gift to us. “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (v.8c).
So God calls us and sends us forth, just as Jesus did with the apostles. LCSC provides us the way by which we can fully live out God’s call. “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (v.7).
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