FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
ZEAL FOR MISSION
December 11, 2017
Today’s gospel: Luke 5:17-26
One of the critical aspects of the New Evangelization is that of the laity engaging in the massive work. They are the workers for the harvest. But they are not just those available for some service, but those who know their calling and dignity as priest, prophet and king. If they know what they are called to be and called to do, then that should result in zeal for the mission, which is what will drive the work.
We see such zeal in the men who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus (v.18). As they were not able to get near because of the large crowd, they went up to the roof, opened it up, and lowered the man right in front of Jesus (v.19). Consider the boldness of what they did.
- They were not deterred by the obstacle (the large crowd) before them. How many times do you give up so easily when faced with lesser obstacles on mission, rather than relying on the power of the Spirit to see you through?
- They were imaginative and creative. They found a way to achieve their purpose. Who would have thought of going to the roof? How many times do you give up when your limited human reasoning is challenged, rather than seeking the creative wisdom of the Spirit?
- They were determined and single-minded. Imagine the scene when they started removing the tiles: noise, murmuring of the crowd, chips falling beside Jesus (the roof, made of tiles in this case, was usually made of straw and clay), distraction to Jesus, the delicate act of lowering the paralytic. How many times do you give up when the going gets hard and suffering sets in, rather than enduring and persevering?
Did Jesus rebuke the men for their invasive act and for disturbing his teaching? On the contrary. “When he saw their faith, he said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven.’” (v.20). He saw their faith and forgave his sins. When we evangelize and bring people to Christ, our faith ultimately leads to their forgiveness and salvation. When we share Christ, people meet Christ, are transformed, and begin to live Christ.
Jesus, aside from forgiving his sins, told him, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” (v.24b). The paralytic did so! Success. Mission accomplished! He experienced both spiritual and physical liberation. Then the former paralytic also began to share Christ in his own way, as he “went home, glorifying God.” (v.25b).
But it was not just he who glorified God. The whole crowd did. “Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, ‘We have seen incredible things today.’” (v.26). The salvation wrought by the work of evangelization spreads in ever-widening circles, intended to reach to the ends of the earth.
Would all those good things have happened if the men in the first place were not zealous for the paralytic to meet Jesus? We must be zealous for the mission given us by the Lord himself. Then we can see amazing results, as God intends.
- Seemingly insurmountable obstacles are overcome.
- People paralyzed by illness (especially sin) are healed.
- Signs and wonders are worked in the power of the Spirit.
Be zealous for the mission. Then you too will be able to say, “We have seen incredible things today.”
* * *