FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
THE CALL TO MISSION – 2
July 9, 2013
Today’s gospel: Matthew 9:32-38
Jesus went about his public ministry. He “went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.” (Mt 9:35). Jesus’ ministry basically consisted of three aspects: (1) evangelization (proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God), (2) formation (teaching), and (3) total human liberation (curing every disease and illness).
Jesus touched their minds and their bodies, as part of touching their spirits. He preached (kerygma), he catechized (didache) and he made whole. He told them about God and the Kingdom, he taught them about the ways of the Kingdom of God, and he enabled them to experience the wholeness that is inherent in God’s Kingdom.
God had sent Jesus into the world out of His great love, His great mercy. His flock had been scattered. Now it was time to gather them all. At this point at the start of Jesus’ ministry, the stark reality in the world once again confronted him. “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mt 9:36). Jesus’ heart was stirred with pity. But now, the shepherd had come to gather his sheep.
Jesus had already formed his basic core group (the Twelve), and knowing that they were to continue his work after him, he stated the challenge. “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (Mt 9:37). The work needed to be massive in order to bring the many troubled and abandoned sheep back into the sheepfold. Being God’s work that they were to continue, sufficient grace would be supplied, such that the harvest would be abundant. But God would be relying on human instruments, and unfortunately the numbers of those who respond to the call could be inadequate.
This today is still the same problem. Christians have not known, understood, or responded to the call to evangelize.
Christians need to know that they are called not only to meet and know Christ, not only to live Christ, but also, just as importantly, to share Christ. Those who become disciples of Jesus by putting their faith in him are then to participate in the work of the Kingdom (as Jesus himself did). They are to preach Christ and the gospel of salvation in him, they are to help form those who respond to the gospel so that they grow in holiness and discipleship, and they are to look to helping liberate their brethren from the shackles of oppression fomented by the evil one — from poverty, injustice, environmental degradation, etc.
Jesus was only one man, but he “went around to all the towns and villages” (Mt 9:35a). We in turn are to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. For that to happen, more need to respond to the call to the New Evangelization. Every committed Christian needs to participate. Thus, we also need to “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Mt 9:38).
Remember, it is His harvest. But we are His instruments.
* * *