FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
OUR WORK OF EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
May 2, 2015
Today’s reading: Acts 13:44-52
Today’s short passage in Acts give us quite a few important points about our work of evangelization and mission.
First and most basic is our call. “For the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (v.47). There are a number of elements here.
- To evangelize is a command from God. It is not a request. It is not an option.
- To evangelize is most important because it involves the salvation of people.
- We are instruments of that salvation. We are the needed workers for the harvest.
- Fulfilling this mission necessitates lives being lived in Christ, so that the light of Christ might shine forth in the darkness through us.
- The mission is to be to and throughout the whole world.
Second, there is power in the kerygma, because that is as God intends it, that those who hear the gospel might believe and thus be saved. “The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe.” (v.48). God prepares the harvest. Our part is to be the workers who will bring in the harvest.
Third, those who meet Christ are among those who will share Christ. One cannot contain extremely good news. And thus “the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region.” (v.49). And so as we get people to meet Christ and start to teach them how to live Christ, we also guide and encourage them to share Christ, to become evangelizers themselves.
Fourth, since the darkened world is under the dominion of the evil one, he will not stand by and watch us bring out his captives. Thus those who do an effective work of evangelization can expect to be opposed and even persecuted. Satan, who has his own human instruments, will act in and through them. “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.” (v.45). Satan incited the Jews, and the Jews in turn “incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city” (v.50a). Unfortunately this happens even with some Catholic groups, whose leaders are envious of the good works of others and end up maligning them. Satan has his own way of expanding his diabolical work in ever growing circles. Not content, and if proven not sufficiently effective, such instruments of the enemy even “stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.” (v.50b).
So oppression and persecution are part of the territory, not just coming from outside enemy forces but also from the enemy within.
So fifth, when opposed and no longer allowed to do one’s work, just move on. There are many territories to be conquered. “So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.” (v.51).
Sixth, always be joyful. Because of the privilege given us to be instruments of God’s salvation. Because of the transformation that we see happening in people. Because of the rich harvest that is being reaped. Because of the crosses that come our way, aligning albeit in a small way in the rejection and sufferings of Christ. “The disciples were filled with joy and the holy Spirit.” (v.52).
If we do our part, with the right heart and attitudes, then whole cities and areas and nations can be won. “On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” (v.44). We just do our part, and the rest is up to God. It is He who provides the fruit.
God just wants everyone to hear the gospel, and thus have the opportunity to repent and turn to Him. What happens then is up to each person. God has won salvation for them, but their response determines if they are saved or condemned. “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” (v.46).
There is much work to be done. There is a harvest to be reaped. Let us get to work.
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