The New Evangelization
(4th Sunday of Easter: Acts 13:14, 43-52;
Revelation 7: 9, 14-17; John 10:27-30)
In our second reading, from Revelation, John describes “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue… who have survived the time of great distress.”
This cannot mean only those who escaped death during persecution. It is their faith that survived. Once evangelized, they remained faithful to the Lord Jesus. They are, if you will, the descendants of the new Christians described in the first reading: “The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region.”
As we know from much of Church history, enthusiasm for the Gospel needs to be renewed from time to time. In this context today we speak of the New Evangelization, which “calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel” (USCCB website).
Pope Benedict XVI put it this way: “There are regions of the world… in which the Gospel put down roots a long time ago, giving rise to a true Christian tradition but in which… the secularization process has produced a serious crisis of the meaning of the Christian faith and of belonging to the Church” (June 28, 2010). That was the situation addressed by the Beautiful Lady at La Salette, and about which all La Salette Laity, Missionaries and Sisters, are spontaneously concerned. We share her tears.
In today’s Gospel Jesus says: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” Our call as evangelizers is to enable others to hear his voice, and help remove the noise that distracts the listener or distorts the message.
Mary asked: “Do you say your prayers well, my children?” Isn’t that the beginning of our evangelization? When we open ourselves to the word of God speaking to our hearts and souls, our faith is deepened, and we are better prepared and motivated to share it.
At the same time we can hear the Gospel message “re-proposed” to us. That is always a good thing.
Fr. René Butler, M.S.