THE NEW EVANGELIZATION (Part 50): NEW WINE INTO FRESH WINESKINS

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

 

THE NEW EVANGELIZATION

(Part 50)

 

NEW WINE INTO FRESH WINESKINS

 

September 6, 2013

Today’s gospel: Luke 5:33-39

 

 

Our Catholic Church has issued the call to the New Evangelization. What is new about evangelization? Evangelization is 2,000 years old. It is still about the very same gospel message of salvation in Jesus. That can never change. So what is new?

Jesus says, “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one.” (Lk 5:36a). He meant that his teaching (the people found it new and refreshing) is not just a patching up of Judaism. Further, he says “no one pours new wine into old wineskins.” (Lk 5:37a). He meant that the gospel cannot be contained within the limits of Mosaic law. Though Jesus said that he had not come to discard the law, still, there was something radically new in what he brought.

Jesus overturned many things that had developed through the years with the people of God. He opposed the triumphalism of the Pharisees. He defined leadership as servanthood, even demonstrating this with the Master washing the feet of his disciples. He spoke of self-denial and embracing the cross. He humbled himself, even unto death.

 

What has all these to do with us in CFC-FFL?

We are an evangelistic and missionary community. We exist to evangelize, to the ends of the earth. Now with the call to the New Evangelization, does that mean we, and our Church, just do more of the same, or that we just exert greater effort? Then there should just have been an exhortation from the hierarchy, rather than a call to a “New Evangelization.” What this is is actually a prophetic call coming from the Holy Spirit. It is a call that “new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.” (Lk 5:38a).

For us in CFC-FFL, this is the Live Christ, Share Christ (LCSC) Movement.

LCSC is a movement that intends to mainstream Catholic lay evangelization. It is about massively seeking out lapsed and nominal Catholics, and bring them back to God and back to the Church. This is done by using what God has given us in all these three decades of our life and mission, but now offering that to the parishes, without intent to recruit into our community those who are evangelized. It is LCSC’s being parish-based and parish-owned that lends itself to massive evangelization, ultimately reaching the great majority of Catholics in the grassroots who are not active in their faith life.

LCSC is a manifestation of our continuing move into the very heart of the Church. From a trans-parochial community, to a parallel community, to a community actively serving in our parishes, and now to a community that merely gives without any return, except for the satisfaction of having served God and the Church. It is a move from the triumphalism of being a worldwide organization recognized by the Vatican, to the self-emptying (kenosis) of just serving, without recruitment,[1] reward[2] of recognition.[3] It is a move from recognized leadership within the Church, to anonymous servanthood.

 

God loves us in CFC-FFL so much that He gave us the privilege of starting LCSC and being the backbone for pushing LCSC throughout the Philippines and even in different parts of the world. But LCSC belongs to God and the Church, not to CFC-FFL. LCSC brings Catholics back to God and to the Church, and not necessarily to CFC-FFL. It is the name of Jesus that is exalted, not the name of CFC-FFL.

This is what God has prepared us for through all these years, through all the ups and downs. God gave us a wonderful gift, which we now share with others, without any agenda, except to proclaim Christ throughout the world. That to us is what the New Evangelization is all about.

This is a radical call. But then, everything about Jesus is radical. Jesus is about overturning accepted views and values. Now God has given us LCSC. The obstacle can only be ourselves (well, is that not always the case?). We are comfortable with what we have been all these three decades. “And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” (Lk 5:39).

The old has indeed been good. But now is the time for the better.

 

Onward to the New Evangelization!

 

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[1] Our basic task is to bring Catholics back to God and back to the Church, and not necessarily to join a covenant community that is CFC-FFL. In fact, God does not intend everyone evangelized to be part of our community. But God does intend that we work such that many more are evangelized.

[2] Except to hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the Master’s joy.”

[3] The pride of recognition can actually bring us down. The only recognition we should desire is for our names to be included in the book of life in heaven.