AN ACCEPTABLE TIME
June 17, 2013
Today’s reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10
We have been called to the New Evangelization. It is an urgent and important call. Due to its urgency and importance, God’s grace will be freely poured out in order to accomplish the task at hand. God expects His people to proclaim the salvation of God massively to the ends of the earth. “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2b).
How can we accomplish this awesome task? We need to understand the call, what it entails, what kind of evangelizers we need to become. We need to be clear on what God requires, on what to expect regarding our mission. We need to go all out, not to shirk our responsibility, not to downplay the importance of our calling, but rather, “on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God.” (2 Cor 6:4a).
How do we truly become ministers of God? How do we carry out our task?
First, it will be “through much endurance” (2 Cor 6:4b). There will be “afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts” (2 Cor 6:4c-5). Wow! That is no walk in the park! We are engaged in spiritual warfare. We will be bruised, beaten and bloodied. We will become weary and even discouraged, at times to the point of wanting to give up. Don’t. Endure, and you will see the victory of our God.
Second, we do divine work, we are witnesses to and ambassadors of Christ, and as such we need to manifest the virtues that come from God. Our witness can only be powerful and our work can only be effective if it is done “by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God” (2 Cor 6:6-7a). We need to shed the ways of the world–impurity, impatience, rudeness, lies, lack of integrity, looking to human strength and wisdom. As God’s instruments, we need to be pure and holy vessels.
Third, engaged in war with the evil one, we fight “with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left” (2 Cor 6:7b). Our battle is against the principalities and powers. We wear the armor of God and wield the sword of the Spirit. We are soldiers of Christ, the holy and righteous One. We march with the armies of heaven, mounted on white horses and wearing clean white linen.
Fourth, we persist and move relentlessly forward, not matter what, through highs and lows, victories and seeming defeats, joys and sorrows, pleasure and pain, “through glory and dishonor, insult and praise.” (2 Cor 6:8a). Mind you, there will be plenty of both. But whatever we are dealt at the moment, we persevere and rejoice, without losing sight of our goal. What happens to us is incidental; what is important is how we ultimately accomplish God’s purpose.
Finally, we must know that the world will disdain us and will thus afflict us, but we look not to the approval of the world, but to that of God. Satan, the father of lies and the prowling lion devouring many, will turn our world topsy-turvy in order to discourage us. But we always look to the vindication of God. We as God’s ministers have much to teach the world. By our work and witness, we contrast negative external impressions with positive inner realities. The world may not perceive it, being blinded by the enemy, but God knows and sees. And so “we are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” (2 Cor 6:8b-10). Such is the paradox of ministry.
But such is the way we commend ourselves as ministers of God, in this call to the New Evangelization. When we live and serve thus, “we cause no one to stumble in anything, in order that no fault may be found with our ministry” (2 Cor 6:3).
What an awesome calling! We who are the people of God have already received the grace and blessing of salvation, of knowing Christ and living in him. Now we are called to share Christ, to proclaim the good news of salvation in him. So “then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2 Cor 6:1b). The grace of God is not just for us but for all, and those who have come first are to help bring in those who are still lost. Let us go about “working together” (2 Cor 6:1a) in response to the call to the New Evangelization.
We call on the name of the Lord as we go forth into the world. We are assured that God is always there for us. “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” (2 Cor 6:2a).
God bless you.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)