FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH
May 13, 2014
Today’s reading: Acts 11:19-26
The Holy Spirit continues to show us His methodology for evangelization, according to the life of the early Church after Pentecost. Today we learn five things.
First, the people of God in Jerusalem “had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen” (v.19a). Something so dire as persecution caused the expansion of the work of evangelization, as the disciples “went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch” (v.19b). Today what is dire is the desperate economic situation of people in developing nations. This has caused them to go to the ends of the earth, to developed nations for greener pastures. Now the economic pastures there are greener, but the spiritual pastures are almost nil. Thus these migrants have been used by God to spread the faith, to enliven parishes, and generally to reinvigorate the church in the western world. These are the Filipinos, the Indians, the Vietnamese, the Nigerians. They have large diasporas outside their own countries.
So the Holy Spirit uses difficulties and hardships for the cause of the gospel. The church had started in Jerusalem. Then because of persecution, the disciples were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1b). Now the disciples were scattered tothe pagan nations. The empowerment of the Spirit to witness indeed was to result in massive growth, not just in numbers, but also in territorial presence, ultimately to the ends of the earth.
Second, the faith was brought to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch not by the stalwarts such as Peter, Paul or Barnabas, but by unknown and anonymous “Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch” (v.20a). God can use anyone who is willing to be used, and in LCSC God does use everyone and empowers them to witness. LCSC is about massive evangelization, with LCSs mounted by many throughout the world, and later by many who themselves come into a life in the Lord through the LCSC. Unlike other programs or groups where there is basically a well-trained and experienced core group that mounts the programs, the methodology of LCSC is easily replicated, allowing for participation by many, thus resulting in massive evangelization.
Third, the disciples were “preaching the word to no one but Jews.” (v.19c). They believed the Way was only for Jews. But the plan of the Holy Spirit cannot be restrained. So some disciples “began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.” (v.20b). What is thelesson for us in CFC-FFL? God can start us one way, then move on to another way, still achieving His purposes. We have been doing theCLP/CLS for all these years. We have been bringing those we evangelize into the community. Now the Lord gives us LCSC, where we do theLCS and not bring graduates into our community. Some have a hard time accepting that. But this is God’s work, not ours. If God shows us anew way of living out our charism and work of evangelization, then who are we to reject it?
Fourth, the first disciples were empowered to witness. “The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to theLord.” (v.21). Today the Holy Spirit also empowers God’s people to witness, if only we are docile to the Holy Spirit and His ways. If we insist on our own ways, then our evangelization stalls. If we do it the Spirit’s way, then we are empowered and will bear much fruit. We are already moving now from the handful in our CLSs to the hundreds in our LCSs.
Fifth, LCSC started from the bottom up. It started in one parish. But now, some dioceses are already taking on LCSC. We look to the time when the whole Church in the Philippines, and later on the universal Church, takes cognizance of the work of LCSC. “The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem” (v.22a). LCSC is about the New Evangelization, the very call of the Church. It is about lay empowerment and massive evangelization, the very aims of the Church.
The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch, and “when he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart” (v.23). My dear brethren in CFC-FFL, open your eyes and see what the Lord is doing through LCSC. Recognize the grace of God there. See how parishes, with their parish priests and parish leaders, are accepting it. See the big harvest. Consider the great potential. Rejoice that God has given us in CFC-FFL the privilege to offer LCSC to the Church. I encourage you all to get on board, and remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart.
Are you “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith” (v.24a)? Then recognize the work of the Holy Spirit. Then have faith in what the Lord is unveiling. Then be a good and faithful servant who will participate eagerly in the work. If you all do so, then “a large number of people (will be) added to the Lord.” (v.24b).
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