FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
SWEET AND SOUR FOOD
November 23, 2012
In John’s vision, he is told to take the scroll from the angel and eat it (Rev 10:8-9a). The angel tells him, “Take and swallow it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.” (Rev 10:9b). The NAB footnote says, “The small scroll was sweet because it predicted the final victory of God’s people; it was sour because it also announced their sufferings.”
I like sweet and sour food. There is a place for just sweet or for just sour, but sweet and sour together is tops. This actually is the Christian life. It has its victories and defeats, ups and downs, joys and griefs, exultations and disappointments, ecstasies and pains, comforts and afflictions. People often only want the so-called good (the former of the pair). But there is much to be said about the seemingly bad (the latter of the pair). Too much of the former may even cause us to neglect and move away from God. Much of the latter can draw us deeper and closer to God. Indeed, the way of Jesus, the authentic gospel, is the way of the cross.
In the New Evangelization this understanding will be crucial. As it is now, Catholics are being raised in the church of “nice.” Be politically correct, do not offend, do not discriminate, do not judge, just be nice to everyone. Do not tell a practicing homosexual that what he is doing is wrong. Make active gay groups welcome in your parish. Elect officials who are into social action even at the expense of being pro-life. Do not preach a homily that will cause discomfort to parishioners.
The result? The authentic gospel, reflected in the teaching of the Church, has been obscured. People are lost, unable to distinguish between right and wrong. Parishes are infected with dissidents. Catholic schools are lost to secularism. The faith has been severely weakened.
If the New Evangelization is to succeed, what needs to be done? There has to be radical action. This is what Jesus did.
“Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them ‘It is written, “My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”’” (Lk 19:45-46). The dioceses, parishes, chanceries, seminaries, congregations, schools, ecclesial movements, etc., of the Church need to be purified. They need to be brought back to their original mission, that of proclaiming Christ and fostering a deep relationship with God. They cannot be dens of thieves who rob God of authentic worship and rob His Church of their true mission. They cannot house dissidents who subvert the Church from within.
How is this done? “And every day he was teaching in the temple area.” (Lk 19:47a). It is through solid authentic Catholic teaching, faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. It is through bold preaching of the authentic gospel, in Mass homilies, congresses, and other Church formation activities.
Church leaders, both cleric and lay, need to have the conviction about the truth of God’s word, about how effective it is in cutting into a person’s very being, about its convincing power, about the grace that it brings.
* It is precious. “Teaching from your lips is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.” (Ps 119:72).
* It brings wisdom. “Your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.” (Ps 119:24).
* It brings joy. “I find joy in the way of your decrees more than in all riches.” (Ps 119:14).
* It is what we need to live life well and to make it to heaven. “Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” (Ps 119:111).
Thus we must earnestly desire the truth of God’s word and God’s law. We must desire to consume it, just like the scroll of John, so that it becomes an integral part of us. “I sigh with open mouth, yearning for your commands.” (Ps 119:131). When we do, we will not be disappointed. It will be great food for our soul. “How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (Ps 119:103).
Now if bishops, priests, nuns and lay leaders do that, given the situation of the Church today, and given the opposition of Satan who does not want a strong Church, we can expect to be persecuted. Oftentimes by the enemy within. “The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death” (Lk 19:47b). With sweet will come the sour.
Let us ensure that we ourselves truly know Jesus and are trying to live his life. Then, as we resolve to be agents of the New Evangelization, let us encourage others, especially the hierarchy and top lay leaders, to speak the truth of the gospel, boldly and without equivocation. Let us close ranks among true Catholics who are trying to live Christ and to share Christ, those who resolve to stand in Jesus’ place in order to do his work. Then perhaps our enemies can “find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.” (Lk 19:48). Jesus words are the words we speak. They are words of life, peace and salvation.
Here now is the angel with the scroll before you. How do you respond?
If we truly understand the call of the New Evangelization, especially in this Year of Faith, if we are willing to take the good with the “bad” as we serve Christ, if we have committed to live Christ, then I pray that your response will be that of John: “I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it.” (Rev 10:10a). It will be the best thing you could ever do in your walk with Jesus. But you have been forewarned: the path of Jesus is the path of the cross. “In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.” (Rev 10:10b).
Go into the whole world and be God’s prophet, blessed but persecuted. Go and “prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” (Rev 10:11).
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