MERCY AND THE NEW EVANGELIZATION

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

OUR THEME FOR 2016

(Part 30)

MERCY AND THE NEW EVANGELIZATION

March 13, 2016

Today’s readings:

Isaiah 43:16-21

Psalm 126:1-6

Philippians 3:8-14

John 8:1-11

Jesus defined mercy when he went to the cross and suffered and died for our sins. He paid the price for our transgressions. This is the good news of salvation in him. Since we are all sinners and under condemnation, we must see the importance of this, and desire to make the whole world know of it. This then is the work of evangelization.

Now we are called to the New Evangelization. Unfortunately many in our Church, and even in our community, are still unaware of or do not fully understand or simply have not embraced the call. “See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:19a). For us in CFC-FFL in particular, the New Evangelization takes shape in LCSC, which we have been tasked to share with our whole Church.

How have some of us, and even clerics and parish leaders, not perceived it?

  • There are those who insist on the greater importance of other aspects of Christian work, missing the reality that underlying all missions of the Church and all parish activities is the work of evangelization. Without people coming to Christ, there is not much other good they can truly do.
  • There are those who have their own priorities, yes good things, but not the most needful, and end up doing less by way of massive evangelization.
  • There are those who want to remain in their comfort zones, and not give the time and energy needed for this massive work.
  • There are those who want to cling on to the old life and work and resist the newness of the Spirit’s direction.
  • There are those who selfishly look to what is in it for them and for the community, rather than selflessly serving the larger Church.

The situation in the world today is critical. Faith, family and life are extremely under threat. A tsunami of evil overwhelms the world. In the midst of such darkness, the Church and the Holy Spirit act. In a seemingly hopeless world situation, the light is shining forth. “In the wilderness I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.” (Is 43:19b).

But we need to respond. God acts by way of human instruments. We look with sorrow on the dire situation of the Church and the world today, and so we go forth to preach the gospel. This is the way to turn mourning into rejoicing, as we look to the harvest that is bountiful. “Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.” (Ps 126:6).

We rejoice in the privilege of being instruments of God’s mercy and salvation. We recognize that we are sinful instruments, that we have just received the mercy of God, and thus we do not stand in condemnation of other sinners. “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (Jn 8:7b). Instead of casting stones, we cast nets.

Mercy is God’s way out for sinners. Mercy is always an invitation to repentance. “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” (Jn 8:11b). How can people experience the mercy of God? It is as we evangelize. What is of most importance? It is for all to meet Christ and “to know him and the power of his resurrection” (Phil 3:10a). Every other good work pales in comparison. “I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil 3:8a).

Thus the work of the New Evangelization necessitates our total commitment and should elicit unbounded zeal. We need to invest ourselves totally in this work. This is what life in Christ is all about. “Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13b-14).

Onward to the New Evangelization!

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