CALLED TO MISSION
April 24, 2013
Today’s reading: Acts 12:24-13:5
The first missionary journey began in Cyprus, when Barnabas and Saul, “sent forth by the holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus.” (Acts 13:4). Here we see two very crucial aspects of the work of evangelization, which many in the Church have already lost sight of. The call to the New Evangelization is actually a call to the old way of doing mission, according to God’s original design.
First, the Church is a missionary Church. She exists to do mission. If she is not doing mission, then she has lost the rationale for her existence. But how many Catholics, bishops, priests, religious, Catholic groups and parishes actually have a missionary mindset? Most are focused on those who are already in the Church. Thus “there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers” (Acts 13:1a). Prophets and teachers are crucial for the ongoing guidance and formation of God’s flock, but even more important are apostles, those who are sent. Such is the hierarchy of importance as God has designated it (see 1 Cor 12:28a).
The New Evangelization is a call to recover this most basic aspect of the life and mission of the Church and of God’s people. They are to go forth to “proclaim the word of God” (Acts 13:5a).
Second, and this is crucial, it is the Holy Spirit who sends God’s people off on mission. “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” (Acts 13:2). The Holy Spirit is the agent of evangelization. But how many Catholics really know the Holy Spirit? We are not talking of an intellectual knowledge, but of an intimate personal relationship.
Has one received the baptism in the Holy Spirit? If not, where would the empowerment for mission come from (see Acts 1:8)? Is one aware of the charismatic gifts, precisely given by the Spirit to the individual members of the body of Christ in order to equip them for mission (see 1 Cor 12:1,4-11)? If not, how can the body be effective in doing mission? Has one experienced the spirituality that comes with the Holy Spirit, the very spirituality of Pentecost (see Acts 2:4)? If not, how can the Spirit truly form God’s people into bold, God-fearing, committed, passionate soldiers for the cause of Christ?
We are called to be evangelizers and missionaries. Now we are called to the New Evangelization. God has provided everything needed for the task. We just need to understand what God is doing, and give generously of ourselves. With the New Evangelization, with the proper understanding and living out of being missionary and being instruments of the Holy Spirit, then God’s work will flourish. Just as then, so will it be today, as “the word of God continued to spread and grow.” (Acts 12:24).
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)