FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
PERSISTING IN PROCLAIMING CHRIST
April 14, 2012
Today’s reading: Acts 4:13-21
The religious authorities ordered Peter and John not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. The reply of the two was a classic. “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).
Here we see the basic characteristics of a Christian who is a true disciple who is filled with the Holy Spirit. One, he obeys only God and not man. Two, he cannot help but proclaim the gospel.
How unfortunate that Christians today are not of the same mold. Most Catholics today are not evangelizers. Many have actually met Christ and are starting to live Christ, but they do not share Christ. They might even be ignorant of the fact that they have been commissioned by Jesus to proclaim the good news to the whole world. Others who do know might be preoccupied with the things of the world. Still others who do try to evangelize might do it listlessly.
But can we really experience Christ and not feel compulsion to proclaim him? Can we receive the gift of salvation and not share it? Can we see and hear about what God has done for us in Jesus and not speak about it? It should be impossible for us not to do so! We should be impelled, compelled, propelled to proclaim Christ and his salvation! If not, we really have not truly experienced Christ.
If we are not actively and boldly proclaiming Christ, then we need to repent, ask for a renewed infilling of the Holy Spirit, and step out in faith in carrying out the Great Commission.
The other important thing is obedience to God. This manifests our love for God, our desire to be a true disciple, our faithfulness to covenant, our walk in holiness.
Now Jesus has already commanded us to preach the gospel. We must obey. Otherwise we are not doing the will of God. In fact, we would in effect be aligning ourselves with the enemy, when we do nothing to bring people from out of his dominion into the Kingdom of God. If we do not gather, we scatter.
We do not wait for permission or directive from our priests or Church hierarchy. It is the inherent right and duty of every Catholic to proclaim Christ and to form associations for the purpose of doing so. No one can inhibit or prohibit us from doing so.
Further, we are not supposed to obey any law or government regulation that is contrary to our faith. The religious authorities just threatened Peter and John but released them, finding no way to punish them (Acts 4:21a). In today’s societies, secular authorities do already have the laws with which to punish those who disobey, such as laws on bubble zones, hate speech, healthcare, homeschooling, etc. Those who transgress are arrested, fined, jailed, or worse.
We must be willing to pay the price. We must be willing, even eager, to walk along the path of Christ, which leads to the cross. We know that suffering and pain are part of the package of being an evangelizer and missionary.
The enemy and his minions will do all they can so that the gospel “may not be spread any further among the people” (Acts 4:17a). The enemy will use secular powers to order Christians “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:18b). Whatever it is, we persist in proclaiming Christ.
Our boldness will amaze those who oppose the gospel, but this is the way we can truly be recognized as the companions of Jesus (Acts 4:13). And this is the way we will see “the people who were all praising God for what had happened.” (Acts 4:21b).
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