FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
BAPTISM OF THE GENTILES
May 12, 2014
Today’s reading: Acts 11:1-18
We learn a few things from the account of the explanation of Peter about the baptism of Cornelius and his household.
First, the Holy Spirit blows as He wills, so we are not to insist on our own ways or our own perceptions of how the work of evangelizationshould be. When Peter brought Cornelius and his household to conversion, “the circumcised believers confronted him, saying, ‘You enteredthe house of uncircumcised people and ate with them.’” (v.2-3). It was forbidden for Jews to associate with Gentiles for they were unclean. Even Peter resisted at first, when he had a vision of being told to eat unclean foods (v.6-8). A voice from heaven then told him, “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.” (v.9).
We can relate this to our situation in this way. For all of 30 years, we have had our evangelization methodology. Go through a CLP/CLS, then be brought into community. Now God shows us a new way, intended to respond to the call to the New Evangelization. We are to do the LCS, and not necessarily bring graduates into the community. We are to focus on the initial proclamation of the gospel, and not necessarily on managing the living out of that gospel (it is the parish that will support them).
If this is what God wants, then who are we to call it “profane.”
Second, we need to proclaim the gospel so that the Holy Spirit will act. “As I began to speak, the holy Spirit fell upon them” (v.15a). This isthe methodology. We proclaim the gospel, then the Holy Spirit comes upon those who hear and believe. The process does not have to be elaborate or lengthy. Yes we do need the RCIA program that lasts for a year or more. Yes, we do have the CFC-FFL CLS that goes for 9 weeks. But yes, we might have the LCSC LCS that is mounted on one day. 3,000 people were converted in one day on Pentecost. The whole household of Cornelius was converted in one sitting. The important thing is to proclaim the gospel, to be those workers who will bring in theharvest God has already prepared. Then, as God has already planned and intended, He takes over even when we are not yet through speaking or finished with our program.
There are those brethren who still resist LCSC, who in effect oppose the directions given by the Holy Spirit. Peter said, “I was at prayer in thecity of Joppa when in a trance I had a vision” (v.5a). I want to say to you all, I have been at prayer about this matter for years, discerning theway we are to go, given that our evangelization had stalled. I have consulted with various bishops. Given the call to the New Evangelization, what the Lord revealed was LCSC. Peter “explained it to them step by step” (v.4). I have expounded on the vision for LCSC many times, had a number of fora, met with leaders, even wrote a pamphlet about CFC-FFL and LCSC, with extensive Q&A. You know what it is about. You know how important it is (I hope you do). Now stop hardening your hearts and get on board!
When three men were sent to Peter from Caesarea, he said, “The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.” (v.12a). After 30 years of CFC/CFC-FFL, which has been my life and my mission, I have obeyed the Holy Spirit, moving in the direction given me. I have been open and have not discriminated against what has been shown to me, as I walked with the Holy Spirit. “These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house.” (v.12b). I pray that the Spirit will tell you to accompany me on this “new” journey, without discriminating against LCSC versus CFC-FFL (there really is no conflict at all), without holding back, without any more qualms, with no more hardening of hearts. Let us all enter into the wonderful world and work of LCSC.
Let us do the massive work of evangelization through LCSC. An angel directed Cornelius to summon Peter, “who will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved.” (v.14). God is now directing us to speak the words by which many more people can appropriate the salvation already won for them by Jesus. We are to proclaim the gospel massively. This work is of the utmost importance. It is of the greatest urgency, as people continue to die in their sins.
God intends for us CFC-FFL to do an even more massive evangelization. The way that can be done is through LCSC (without neglecting our continuing CFC-FFL strategic evangelization). Peter says, “If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in theLord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” (v.17). God gave us a wonderful gift in CFC/CFC-FFL. God wants to give many othersthe same gift of a personal life-giving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Who are you to hinder what God wants to do?
“When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God” (v.18a). After you have read this, my prayer is that you will stop objecting. Come on board. There is much work to be done. May we, and all those we will evangelize through LCSC, truly glorify God.
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