Saturday, July 3, 2010

A New Evangelization - A New Pentecost

Reflections on the Readings

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 4, 2010, Year C

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

By Dennis S. Hankins

Readings For This Sunday

A New Evangelization - A New Pentecost

And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." - Jesus

"As we give thanks for past blessings, and look to the challenges of the future, let us implore from God the grace of a new Pentecost for the Church in America.  May tongues of fire, combining burning love of God and neighbor with zeal for the spread of Christ's Kingdom, descend on all present" - Pope Benedict XVI, Papal Visit to the United States, April 19, 2008

Many recent Popes have exhorted the Church to embrace its calling to evangelize.(Blessed John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI) John Paul II spoke of a 'new springtime' in the Church.  Both he and Benedict the XVI speak of a new Evangelization - a new Pentecost, interchangeably.  And Blessed John XXIII convened Vatican II, seeing in it an opportunity for the Church to pray for and experience a new Pentecost.

Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in our Time) explains, "The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself."  This connection to constant renewal in the Church is addressed by Pope John Paul II in Catechesi Tradendae. (On Catechesis in our Time) Here John Paul II speaks of the need to not only catechize but evangelize the faithful.  Concerned about this His Holiness states, "A certain number of children baptized in infancy come for catechesis in the parish without receiving any other initiation into the faith and still without any explicit personal attachment to Jesus Christ"  

There is left untapped, untouched, unevangelized, a great reservoir of faith in many of the faithful; it is a field ready for harvest.  Some call this the under evangelized.  Many do not know how to release the presence of Christ, to evangelize, because they do not personally know the presence of Christ.

Jesus sent out the seventy-two to evangelize; to heal the sick and preach the kingdom of God.  Upon their return they exclaimed that even the demons were cast out in Jesus' name.  Indeed, Jesus saw in their mission Satan's downfall, explaining, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."  But Jesus invites not joy over exorcisms, but joy, great joy, "That your names are written in heaven."  

Is yours?  How about your children's names, are they written down in heaven?  The neighbor or the coworker, do they even know that your are a Christian?  

Paul's consuming work was to evangelize; to make Jesus known.  Having met Jesus rather dramatically himself, Paul boasted in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Finding all of his life and destiny in the Christ of the cross he preached, the world, that is its passions and its idolatry held no attraction for him. 

Jesus stopped Paul on his journey to persecute Christians.  A great light shined upon Paul and falling from his horse while traveling on the Damascus Road, Satan's hold on his life fell also.  And Paul's name was written down in heaven and the Church was never the same. 

This past week, Pope Benedict XVI announced a new dicastery for the New Evangelization.  Our Pope believes it is time to re-propose the faith, the truth of the Gospel.  He wants the Church, especially in Europe and North America to be reawakened; a Church that is called to be salt and light to the world.  

Indeed, the harvest is ready - a new Evangelization - a new Pentecost is at hand.  Let us pray that we may be used to reach the world in this new outpouring of grace.  Amen.

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