FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
NEW THINGS HAVE COME – 3
July 25, 2015
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
The New Evangelization requires a new breed of evangelizers, missionaries, witnesses, warriors and servant leaders. Or rather, just as the New Evangelization is a return to the old tested methodology of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit and the evangelizing mission of the early Church, so too is such new breed actually a return to the old breed of staunch, zealous, committed, long-suffering disciples who went all-out for Christ and for the Church. We do not see many of them these days.
What do we see these days among Church workers and leaders? Pride, envy, infighting, factions, dissensions, self-interest, lack of vision, lack of commitment, comfort zones, selfishness, lack of urgency. It is a failure in true servant leadership.
What needs to happen? Today’s readings give us certain principles in looking to this new (but old) breed. These twelve principles have to do with servanthood, suffering and salvation.
First, we are to have the attitude of servants, not leaders (even as we need to lead). We do not look to our worldly authority (even as we exercise authority). In no way are we to be like secular leaders. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” (Mt 20:25-27). We who are first are to be the last.
Second, we are not to look to personal glory. In no way are we to be like the mother of the sons of Zebedee, who asked Jesus, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” (Mt 20:21). Our place is not at the right or left of Jesus, but at his feet, bowed down low.
Third, we are not to look to positions of prominence. The mother of the sons of Zebedee tried to secure positions for her sons, but “when the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers.” (Mt 20:24). Why? Because they understood about servant leadership? No, but because James and John brazenly sought what they themselves desired and just beat them to it. How about us? Why do some leaders, when they are removed from positions of leadership, sulk or get angry or lie low?
Fourth, we are to understanding that suffering is a part of the call to servanthood. If we just look to power or position or acclaim, then we can easily be disappointed. Jesus tells us, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Mt 20:22). Our Master is the suffering Servant, and we are to follow in his footsteps.
Fifth, such suffering is self-sacrificial. It is an offering of self, holding nothing back. “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:28). We give not only our time, talent and treasure, but also our very lives. Our Master is the One who went to the cross. “For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus” (2 Cor 4:11a). Death brings life. Jesus died on the cross and brought us from out of death to life. We die to self and willingly endure suffering in order to bring many others to Christ. “So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Cor 4:12).
Sixth, given that suffering is part of the call, we must endure and persevere. “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4:8-9). We never give up, no matter what! We realize how blessed we are to also embrace the cross of Christ. We gaze at Jesus, seeing him bruised, battered and bloodied on the cross, and we recognize the privilege of “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor 4:10). How about us? Do you give up when the going gets rough?
Seventh, we never lose sight of the reason for our mission, and that is to be instruments of God in bringing salvation to others. “Restore our captives, Lord, like the dry stream beds of the Negeb.” (Ps 126:4). We pray and act that God would overturn the lives of those held in bondage by the enemy, to bring restoration to the Father, to bring abundant life to their dry and deathly deserts. The work of evangelization is the most important work during these critical times in the life of the world.
Eighth, to become God’s instruments of salvation, we need to be witnesses to Jesus. We witness to our faith in Christ, both a silent witness of holiness and a verbal witness of proclamation. “Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke,’ we too believe and therefore speak” (2 Cor 4:13). We need to evangelize in the normal day-to-day circumstances of our lives, speaking to relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, schoolmates.
Ninth, realizing what a treasure the gospel entrusted to us is, and knowing that we cannot do this challenging work on our own power or resources, we look to God’s power. “But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. (2 Cor 4:7). This is very comforting. Even as we fall short in many ways, the Holy Spirit can still use us.
Tenth, we look forward with expectant faith to the victory to be won by God for us. We expect that God will empower us and do mighty works through us. “Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord had done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us; Oh, how happy we were!” (Ps 126:2b-3). We must always be filled with gratitude, in both victories and seeming defeats. Everything is grace. “Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” (2 Cor 4:15).
Eleventh, being God’s instruments of salvation, being entrusted with the treasure that is the gospel, experiencing God’s victory in every circumstance, we must always rejoice. We must keep planting the seed, until we are able to bring in the harvest. “Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy. Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.” (Ps 125:5-6). What God has already prepared for His faithful servants is unimaginable. “When the Lord restored the captives of Zion, we thought we were dreaming. Then our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy.” (Ps 126:1-2a).
Twelfth, having done all we are called to do, we look to our eternal reward. Whatever we suffer on earth will pale in comparison to what awaits us in heaven. We endure, “knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.” (2 Cor 4:14). Then that is the time when we will sit in the Father’s presence, on the right and left of Jesus our Lord and Master. We look not to earthly but to heavenly reward, after having persevered in our mission. “My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Mt 20:23).
We drink the cup of suffering in the here and now, and we drink the cup of glory in the hereafter. Your seat in heaven awaits you. Onward to the New Evangelization!
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