FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
THE LOST SHEEP
We are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep (Lk 15:4-7). A man lost one sheep and so left the 99 in the desert to look for the one. Finding it, he rejoices and celebrates with a party. Jesus then says that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”
This is followed by the parable of the lost coin (Lk 15:8-10). When the woman finds the lost coin, she throws a party. Jesus then says “there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Actually, if it were the case in the world that there is only one sinner among 99 righteous people, then that would be cause for tremendous rejoicing in heaven. Unfortunately that is not the case. In fact, it is the opposite! Among the people of God, only 1% are righteous people who have no need of repentance. Though it is true that all of us are sinners who fall short of the glory of God, the 1% may be said to be basically in right relationship with God. They are those who are living Christ.
What is the situation of Catholics today? Though there are no statistics to support this, it would not be far from the truth to view the situation of Catholics today as follows:
50% are nominal and secular, many of them in serious sin. They are living in the world and outside the life of the Church. They are not Christians at all.
25% are fairly good people, but their faith is something separate from their secular lives. They have compartmentalized their life as to spiritual and secular. They may go to Mass every now and then, but the rest of the week are doing things that may not be pleasing to God.
15% are regular churchgoers, but still live according to their own personal priorities, agenda and desires. They do not live out the two greatest commandments (which sum up the whole prophets and the law). They have not turned their lives over completely to Jesus for him to run as he pleases.
9% are good Christians, basically transformed in Christ, but are not actively striving for holiness, living out discipleship, or doing evangelization. As such, they still fall short of the fullness of what it means to be a true Christian.
1% are true Christians who have no need of repentance (again, everyone is a sinner and still needs to repent, even of venial sin). Their lives belong to Jesus. They live righteous lives. They are those who live Christ and share Christ.
Evangelization is about seeking the one lost sheep that has strayed from the sheepfold. The New Evangelization is about seeking the 99, even as these are already within the sheepfold. It is actually re-evangelization. It is going after those who are just nominally Christian and have lost the way. It is bringing them back to the sheepfold, the Church of which they should rightfully be a part. Evangelization is for pagans, and the New Evangelization is for baptized pagans.
The New Evangelization is not just about those Christians who can be considered pagans, that is, who have no place at all for Jesus in their lives. It is about those who are not living out the fullness of their calling as Christ’s followers. It is not only about those who commit sin, but also about those who omit the fullness of grace. It is not only about those who have gone astray and veered away from the right path, but also for those who are still walking along the right path, but not walking fast enough!
The New Evangelization is not only about expanding the sheepfold, but cleaning it up. It is about realizing that the enemy is not only out there, but also already within. It is not just about maintaining the life of the sheep, but ensuring that the sheep are healthy and strong.
For a very long time, the 99 have not been given adequate attention, simply because they could still be counted as among the sheep (whether they were within or outside of the sheepfold). Thus they have deteriorated in their spiritual health. In fact, wolves have already infiltrated the sheepfold, covered in sheep’s clothing. The flock continues to weaken and be threatened.
Now there is the call to the New Evangelization. It is a call to meet Christ, live Christ and share Christ. It is what the Chief Shepherd had always intended his flock to do.
There will always be great sinners in the world, until the Lord returns in glory. But let it be the one and not the 99. Then there surely will be the greatest rejoicing in heaven.
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