FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
FAITH AND WORKS
December 10, 2012
Today’s gospel: Luke 5:17-26
The New Evangelization is a return to the basics, to what is of most fundamental importance to the faith, to the methodology of evangelization from the time of Pentecost. Faith is about salvation in Jesus.
Faith is also about works. Jesus came to bring glad tidings to the poor. Faith without works is dead, but works without faith leads to such deviations from authentic faith as acceptance of the myth that overpopulation is the cause of poverty and so there has to be population control, or as acceptance of contraception rather than looking to God’s command to be fertile and multiply. Concern over poverty, without the dictates of authentic faith, leads to demanding abortion and same-sex marriage as universal human rights.
This has been the classic dichotomy between pro-life and pro-social justice Catholics, especially in the USA, but increasingly throughout the world. Pro-poor and pro-social justice Catholics have gone to the point of opposing authentic Catholic teaching and the Magisterium of the Church. We see bishops, priests, nuns and lay leaders accepting and even advocating for contraception and supporting and electing pro-abortion or pro-RH politicians.
The truth is that if you are a true Christian, you ought to have a preferential option for the poor. There is no dichotomy. However, there are many Christians whose hearts bleed for the poor, but in being so, have deviated from authentic faith. Faith in fact is the foundation for social action.
We draw an essential principle from today’s gospel reading. People brought a paralyzed man to Jesus to be healed. What Jesus did was instead to forgive him his sins (Lk 5:20). Later Jesus also healed him physically.
People saw the best thing for the man was to be healed of his physical condition. Jesus knew better. He needed to be healed of his spiritual condition. First things first, then everything else will follow. Those whose spirits are truly touched by Jesus would normally go on to be good and to do good. However, those who receive physical healing from God (or wealth, position, etc.), if the foundation of faith is not strong, often later on forget God’s goodness and go on to live lives apart from Him, or at least not fully under His dominion.
The social justice Catholics have gone on to really veer away from the faith. Catholic nuns work with the poor but advocate elements of the culture of death and support a pro-abortion President such as Obama. Catholic lay leaders build communities among the poor but remove Christ from the center of the work in order to receive more funds, including from corporations providing contraceptives. Catholic legislators profess concern for tribal communities and marginalized peoples but support reproductive health bills.
The New Evangelization calls us to have the proper priorities. To build the Church of the Poor is always a part of that. But to do so by deviating from the authentic culture of life is to miss the essence of evangelization.
Jesus came so that we might have forgiveness of sin, and thus be restored to the Father. When that has happened, then we can go on and bring that love of God to others, especially to the poor. And what we know is that what we bring is authentic faith, faith that not only heals physically but more especially spiritually, faith by which not only does one’s life on earth become better but that one will actually make it to heaven, where healing becomes perfect.
May the true work of the New Evangelization bring astonishment and awe to the world, and lead everyone to glorify God.
* * *