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(Part 248)


December 11, 2018

Today’s readings:
Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 96:1-13
Matthew 18:12-14

To address the growing challenges to the faith in this third millennium, the Holy Spirit has called for the New Evangelization. Unfortunately, most Catholics have not heard about it, or do not know about it, or do not understand it. Thus our Church is missing a great opportunity for an outpouring of grace and a much-desired revival.

In what ways do we not understand what is the New Evangelization? Or put another way, in what ways has our Church acted, and still act, that shows this lack of understanding?

Not being a missionary Church
The New Evangelization is a call to worldwide mission. The psalmist says, “Tell his glory among the nations, among all peoples, his marvelous deeds” (Ps 96:3). Our Church is a missionary Church. She exists for mission. But rather than continuing to expand her work and reach, she is shrinking.

Our parishes are not focused on evangelization. If there is evangelization, it is but one of the different ministries, rather than having evangelization as the thread that weaves through all the different parish ministries. Further, evangelization is thought of as just some programs, mostly focused on formation.

The ordinary Catholic does not have knowledge of or a mindset about evangelization and mission. But this is what a Christian is supposed to be.

Not searching for the lost sheep
The New Evangelization is a call to search for and bring back the lost sheep, those Catholics that are nominal or lapsed. “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?” (Mt 18:12). God does not want anyone to be lost. “It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (Mt 18:14). Jesus came to save us. This aspect of faith is of the utmost importance.

Tragically, today it is not one but the 99 that are lost! There is growing apostasy in our Church, and we are losing Catholics by the day. They are being taken by the world, by sects and even by cults.

Regular Church attendance is a low single-digit in parts of Europe, and in the teens for most of the rest of the world. Even in places where churches are packed on Sunday, many are still not accounted for, as parishes have no concerted effort to go to the grassroots at the peripheries.

Missing the first step in evangelization
The New Evangelization emphasizes the kerygma, the proclamation of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. Every Catholic is to become an evangelizer. “A voice says, ‘Proclaim!’” (Is 40:6a). This is the missing first step in the process of evangelization. It is what leads to repentance and faith in Jesus. When the gospel is proclaimed, people hear, believe, call upon the name of the Lord, and are saved. Without this initial first step, then how can anything else follow?

Our Church today focuses on many things (important as they are) such as catechism, sacraments, liturgical feasts, conferences and social justice, but miss out on evangelization.

Absence of rapid and massive evangelization
The New Evangelization is a call to rapid and massive evangelization. The psalmist says, “proclaim his salvation day after day.” (Ps 96:2b). Day after day, each and every day! Since 99 of the 100 sheep are lost, evangelization must be rapid and massive. How else are we going to be able to reach them all?

Such massive work is not in the mindset of many parishes and dioceses. Much energy is spent in doing many works, but evangelization happens just every now and then, if at all.

Being a Church of maintenance
The New Evangelization is a call to mission, searching for the lost sheep, and not just tending to the flock that remains. “And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.” (Mt 18:13).

The Church does a good job of caring for the flock that is active and engaged. There are very many good parish programs, ministries and support groups. Unfortunately, most Catholics are not there to partake of the feast that is on the table. They need to be searched for and brought back to God and back to the Church.

It is ironic that our Church focuses on maintenance, but is unable to maintain our Catholics. We are losing them by the day.

Lack of focus on Christ
The New Evangelization brings us back to a focus on Jesus the Savior. We are to meet Christ, live Christ, and share Christ. He is King and Lord. So we “declare among the nations: The Lord is king.” (Ps 96:10a).

Not focused on holiness
The New Evangelization is a call to holiness and Christian perfection. We are to be like God. We are to “bow down to the Lord, splendid in holiness.” (Ps 96:9a). Holiness is hardly spoken of today. The ordinary Catholic does not even know what holiness means. Thus we have many Catholics who go to Mass and receive Communion, but the rest of the week are indulging in works of the flesh.

Lack of empowerment by the Spirit for spiritual warfare
The New Evangelization is a call to engage in spiritual warfare against a powerful enemy, but with the assurance of victory by the power of the Holy Spirit, who is the agent of evangelization. “Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm” (Is 40:10a).

We cannot prevail against the evil one just on our own strength. We need divine power to do divine work. But many today do not know the Holy Spirit. Many do not even know that when they evangelize, they are automatically engaged in spiritual warfare. That makes dependence upon God and His power even more crucial. Indeed, the call is to be holy warriors.

Not giving all to the work
The New Evangelization is a call to give our all in the proclamation of the gospel. “Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!” (Is 40:9b). We are to devote the fullness of our time, gifts and resources to the work.

Jesus says that the harvest is rich but the laborers are few. Many more need to step up and step forward. And those who do so need to see this mission work as of critical importance, worthy of giving their all.

Lack of pastoral care and formation
The New Evangelization is a call to care for and protect the sheep who are already in the sheepfold, as they are under attack by ravenous wolves, both without and within. “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, leading the ewes with care.” (Is 40:11). There has to be constant and ongoing formation and pastoral care.

Unfortunately, even our pastors might be going astray. Many are buying into the culture of death (such as acceptance of contraception and LGBT). Many dissent from the Church Magisterium. Many have become liberal or progressive and even modernist. Many are into political correctness, accompanying and accepting the sinner but not speaking of his sin. The scandal of homosexual sin among clerics has caused many lay Catholics to leave the Church.

Not preparing for the second coming
The New Evangelization is a preparation for the second coming of Jesus. “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord!” (Is 40:3a). Jesus will come again, “the Lord who comes, who comes to govern the earth, to govern the world with justice, and the peoples with faithfulness.” (Ps 96:13). Jesus will bring justice and judgment, and will extend eternal reward to the holy and faithful remnant.

Since we are already in the end times, the work is of the utmost urgency. But many Catholics are engaged in the goings-on of the secular world, hardly prepared for the day of judgment.

* * *

Some of you may think you already know about the New Evangelization. But if you are just doing one or two LCSs a year in your parish or publics, then you have not quite grasped what it is about. This work needs to be rapid and massive, able to reach the lost sheep within a shorter period of time.

If you lack a sense of urgency, if you are not giving your all, if you are not striving for holiness, then you have not understood. The New Evangelization is not just about new programs, but is a whole new vision for mission. It is putting the ever-creative new wine of the Spirit into new wineskins.

There is much that you need to learn and internalize. The very life and vibrancy of our Church is at stake. As well as the salvation of souls. Please read intently and study my new book, “What is New About the New Evangelization?”

* * *

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