FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
PAUL’S FAREWELL SPEECH
May 19, 2015
Today’s reading: Acts 20:17-27
In one sentence of his farewell speech, Paul capsulized the kerygma, with is the basis for our LCSC LCS. “I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus.” (v.21). The first 3 sessions of our LCS are: (1) Jesus the Messiah, (2) Called to Witness, and (3) Repentance and Faith.
After this basic proclamation of the gospel, after people are led to meet and encounter Christ and are given the basics of living Christ, we then speak about “The Gift of the Holy Spirit” and pray with seminar participants for the baptism in the Spirit. This is to empower them to live Christ and also to share Christ. This is how we will be “compelled by the Spirit” (v.22a) to truly live out our faith in Jesus.
With the baptism in the Spirit and then with “Growing in the Spirit” providing us the 5 tools to growth in the Christian life, we hope that more and more Catholics will become like Paul, overflowing with zeal for the gospel. This is key to the New Evangelization.
First, we humbly accept the privilege of being instruments of proclaiming the gospel of salvation in Jesus. “I served the Lord with all humility” (v.19a). Such a privilege should truly humble us, for we are sinful flesh, but tasked with such a divine endeavor, that is intended for the salvation of souls.
Second, we realistically look to the difficulties and challenges that lie ahead as we accept the Lord’s commission. We are not wide-eyed romantics. Paul said he served “with the tears and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews.” (v.19b). In the work of evangelization we enter into spiritual warfare and assault the dominion of Satan, who of course fights back. But we are also engaging human forces wrapped in darkness who plot against us–world secular powers, liberal Catholics who are the enemy within, friends and relatives who might ridicule us, Church orgs and parish workers who are self-referential. There will be plenty of tears and trials. In fact, with the growing oppression and persecution of Christians in the so-called Christian western world today, it is already true, as in the case of Paul, “that in one city after another the holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me.” (v.23).
Third, we are to proclaim the full gospel and the hard truths of Jesus. “I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit” (v.20a). Today there are clerics and lay leaders who just want to be nice, to be accommodating, to not talk of sin but only of love and mercy, to not offend, to be politically correct. Well, that is why our Church is weakening. To proclaim Christ is to tell people what is for their benefit, and that is the hard demands of the authentic gospel. Indeed, like Paul, we should “not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.” (v.27).
Fourth, we are to look to evangelistic opportunities everywhere and at all times. Paul did not shrink “from teaching you in public or in your homes.” (v.20b). We are to proclaim Christ, to our relatives in our homes and to our friends and neighbors and co-workers in the different publics where we find ourselves.
How will our lives be, as we respond to God’s call? “What will happen to me there I do not know.” (v.22b). Only God knows. And it does not really matter. What matters is obedience to God’s call. There will be ups and downs, joys and sorrows, victories and seeming defeats. But it will always be glorious. “Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God’s grace.” (v.24).
Praise be to God! Onward to the New Evangelization!
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