PRINCIPLES OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION – 2
December 9, 2013
Today’s readings: Gen 3:9-20; Ps 98:1-4; Eph 1:3-12; Lk 1:26-38
The New Evangelization is about a re-focus on the basic truths of our life in Christ. When the first disciples acted on these truths or principles, the Church grew rapidly and massively. Today such growth is gone; worse, there is a rapid decline in Church attendance and membership! A vibrant Church grows, but ours is contracting. A vibrant Church builds many more houses of worship, but we are closing them down fast. A vibrant Church brings in many new members into fellowship with Christ, while we are losing our members to sects and cults, and generally to the world. Clearly there is need for something to happen. This then is the call to the New Evangelization.
The first principle is that we are chosen by God and destined to live with Him forever. God “chose us in him, before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4a) and “in him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will” (Eph 1:11). God’s intent in creating us, God’s will for our lives, was that we would live with Him in paradise. However, that plan was thwarted by the fall of Eve and Adam in Eden, and paradise was lost. But God’s will is not thwarted, His plan endures, and so He sent His Son to redeem us and to restore us.
The second principle is that “he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will” (Eph 1:5). Jesus is the Redeemer. “In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7). Even at the fall, God already planned our salvation. God would send the offspring of the woman to crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15). Jesus is the Savior, but Jesus and his mother Mary are the tandem that defeats the enemy.
The third principle is that God acts, according to His will and plan, but we need to respond, to give our assent. The Savior would come into the world by way of a woman, and that was Mary. Oftentimes, what God reveals to us, what God wants us to do, would seem to us strange, difficult, challenging, even impossible. But we need to look not to ourselves, but to God, and we must know that “nothing will be impossible for God.” (Lk 1:37). We give our yes, as lowly servants of God. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38a). Then, having His willing instrument, God does the rest.
The fourth principle is that God wants us to be holy. We are a creation of God. We are children of God. We are made in His image and likeness. We are destined to live with Him forever in heaven. Thus God “chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.” (Eph 1:4). Thus we need not only to meet Christ the Savior, but we need to live Christ the only Way.
The fifth principle is that as we meet Christ, live Christ and share Christ, the enemy will be standing in the way, and he will “strike at (our) heel.” (Gen 3:15c). We will be engaged in spiritual warfare. But the victory is already assured, as Jesus’ death and resurrection has already crushed the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15b). “His right hand and holy arm have won the victory.” (Ps 98:1b). We must be bold and must endure in assaulting the enemy.
The sixth principle is that this victory is for all. Jesus came so that all might be saved. Of course it depends on our acceptance, through repentance and faith in Jesus. But God intends the victory to be complete at the end of time. This is “His plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.” (Eph 1:10). God “has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in (Jesus)” (Eph 1:9). God revealed it to Mary (Lk 1:26-33), God reveals it to us his people. “The Lord has made his victory known; has revealed his triumph in the sight of the nations.” (Ps 98:2). Now God’s plan needs to be known by many others. This then is the work of rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization. We share Christ, so that others might meet Christ and start to live Christ. Our goal? That “all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” (Ps 98:3b). Their response? “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth” (Ps 98:4a).
The seventh principle is that God’s intent is for us to live eternally with Him in heaven, where we will be privileged to worship in His holy presence. We are destined according to God’s will “for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.” (Eph 1:6), “so that we might exist for the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:12a). In fact, in heaven there will be non-stop worship of God (see Rev 4:8-11). Together with all the angels and saints, we will “break into song; sing praise.” (Ps 98:4b).
God’s plan and will were that His creatures would live with Him forever in paradise. It started in Eden; it will end in the New Eden, heaven. What bridges the gap is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, through the assent of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now God uses us to complete the process, as what will bridge the gap is the work of the New Evangelization.
Eve and Adam said yes, but to the devil. Mary said yes, to God. Now we are called, chosen and destined, but we need to say our own yes. To whom will it be? If it is not to God and the call to evangelize, then we do not gather but in fact scatter. Thus, wittingly or unwittingly, our yes is to the enemy, as his dominion remains unchallenged.
We can see that much is at stake in the work of evangelization, according to these truths and principles. It is about God’s plan and will, about our destiny, about salvation for the whole world, about bringing the gospel to the ends of the earth, about making it to heaven. We must want God’s plan, and not the devil’s, to happen to us. We must look to our eternal destiny, according to God’s will. So onward then to the work of the New Evangelization.
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God bless you.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)