FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
RESPONDING TO THE CALL
October 18, 2012
2 Timothy 4:9-17
There is much we can learn from today’s readings regarding the call to the New Evangelization.
First is the great need for our participation. “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (Lk 10:2a). The New Evangelization is a call for all Catholics, especially the laity, to participate in the task of proclaiming the gospel. There is a hunger and thirst for God in every created soul, and many hearts and minds are already being prepared and are ripe for the harvest. If they are not harvested, then they will be lost to cults, sects, the New Age, and fundamentalist Protestants. The potential laborers are not few but very very many. They are the 99.9% of Catholics who are the laity. Unfortunately, very few Christians, especially Catholics, actually know that they are supposed to be evangelizers. Those who have met Christ and are starting to live Christ must actually share Christ.
Second, for those who decide to evangelize, they must be aware of the urgency of the task and the single-mindedness needed to accomplish it. They are to “greet no one along the way” (Lk 10:4b). They are to focus. They are not to be distracted. They are not to dilly-dally. They are to “carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals” (Lk 10:4a). They are not to be held back by a lack of money or provisions. They need not prepare for every contingency but are to trust fully in God who provides.
Third, they are to be aware that they engage in spiritual warfare. “Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” (Lk 10:3). We are the Lord’s lambs, His flock. But we are sent forth from the safety of the sheepfold and into the world, to help gather the scattered flock, and in the world we will encounter wolves.
Actually, some wolves have already infiltrated the sheepfold. These are the dissidents who profess to be Catholics but who do not accept important teachings of the Catholic Church, such as on contraception, abortion and homosexuality. These are also lay leaders who wreak disunity and dissension in the body, through maligning their brethren, or disobedience to bishops, or causing scandal through unchristian acts. Paul had painful experiences of such. There was Demas who was “enamored of the present world” and Alexander who did him “a great deal of harm” (2 Tm 4:10a,14a).
How do we go about the call to the New Evangelization?
We always look to God for whatever we need. “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength” (2 Tm 4:17a). God will defend us, strengthen us, protect us, and grant us everything we need for the mission, since it is He Himself who sends us. “The Lord is trustworthy in every word, and faithful in every work.” (Ps 145:13b). Even in facing a powerful enemy, the evil one who seeks to devour us, it is God who helps us. “And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” (2 Tm 4:17c).
We need to persevere not only through trials and hardships, but also through infidelities and even betrayal of brethren. Demas deserted Paul, and at his first defense everyone also deserted him (2 Tm 4:16). We must not be discouraged but plod on. Even if we are the last person standing. We must always just look to God, who is just and true. “You, Lord, are just in all your ways, faithful in all your works.” (Ps 145:17). It is Him whom we serve, and Him whom we want to please. God will always be there for us, especially in our suffering and pain. “The Lord supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” (Ps 145:14).
We have been given the great privilege of being proclaimers of the gospel of the kingdom of God. That is what we need to do. “Whatever town you enter …. say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’” (Lk 10:8a,9b). And know that God depends on you. Your response is crucial, “so that through (you) the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.” (2 Tm 17b).
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