FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
THE AUTHENTIC GOSPEL
October 8, 2012
Today’s reading: Galatians 1:6-12
Evangelization is proclamation of the gospel of salvation in Jesus. New Evangelization is proclamation of the same gospel, but ensuring that indeed it is the one true gospel. It is important to stress this, because through the years many gospels (or what is claimed to be good news) have been brought forth, even by clerics.
What are some of these false gospels?
There is the gospel of prosperity. This proclaims that one is to just accept Jesus and he will be prosperous, will have his prayers answered, will be healed of his illnesses, will receive his heart’s desires. Now if we accept Jesus, indeed we will be blessed tremendously, including these things. However, the authentic gospel of Jesus is the gospel of the cross. In the midst of all the blessings would be persecution and suffering and pain. The gospel of prosperity keeps us focused on the humanly pleasurable things, and many end up missing the spiritual realities that truly count. Indeed, the prosperous Western world has turned its back on the faith, while poor persecuted Christians are the ones steadfast in their faith.
There is the gospel of liberation and social justice. This proclaims that the Church’s call and the mission of Christians in the world is to make it a better place, to eradicate poverty, to preserve the environment. Now indeed God wants all these, and the Church proclaims a preferential option for the poor. But the gospel is not about seeking a socialist utopia, but rather building the kingdom of God in the world, together with all the trials and challenges and injustices of life. The gospel of social justice looks to helping the poor but on human terms, often neglecting their spiritual formation. Thus, this gospel proclaims that because there is poverty, then population should be controlled, thus the acceptance of contraception and abortion.
There is the gospel of humanism and modernism. This in effect proclaims that man and not God is at the center. What is important is for man to be happy, to be free to do whatever he wants. This gospel leads to hedonism, licentious sex, rejection of faith, and assault on family and life. The authentic gospel of course speaks of freedom and happiness, but these are always in Christ.
There is the gospel of political correctness. We are not supposed to offend. And since people are offended when they are confronted by their sin (such as active homosexuality), then we should not speak out on the matter. This is the church of “nice.” We are just to be nice, smiling, friendly people, who do not engage in any talk or action that rubs people the wrong way. But this is not the way of Jesus. Jesus confronted the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He spoke a clear message of sin and the need for repentance. He clearly told people what was right and wrong. If we are to be instruments of the New Evangelization, we need to do the same. We take the posture of Paul: “Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.” (Gal 1:10).
Many Christians have been blinded by the seductive message of the false gospels. “I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel (not that there is another).” (Gal 1:6-7a). Paul is asserting that there is just one authentic gospel of Jesus Christ, and to reject that gospel is to forsake Christ himself. A false gospel, no longer centered on Christ, becomes bad news. Unfortunately, many persons in authority and leadership, at the prodding of the enemy, “wish to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Gal 1:7b).
There are many man-made gospels, but there is only one authentic gospel of Jesus Christ. It is of divine origin. It is the only gospel that we preach. “Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin.” (Gal 1:11). Ultimately, this gospel is a revelation by God Himself, passed on by the Church that Jesus established. “For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal 1:12).
The enemy has perverted the gospel. He has presented as good news what would ultimately lead people away from God and keep them out of heaven. These perverted gospels come in attractive packages, proclaimed by eloquent preachers. Even Satan comes as an angel of light. As these lead Christians away, Church leaders need to speak strongly against them, just as Paul did. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed!” (Gal 1:8). For good measure, Paul repeats himself, as he says he has said before (Gal 1:9).
We are slaves of Christ, we are witnesses of Jesus, our preaching the good news is divinely ordained. As we respond to the call to the New Evangelization, let us make sure that indeed we are loyal to the authentic gospel.
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