Are we willing and ready to take up the mission?

by May Tam
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 66:10-14C

Galatians 6:14-18

Luke 10:1-12,17-20

The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, a document by the Synod of Bishops in Oct 2012 (which paved the way for Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium in Nov 2013), echoed Jesus' blueprint of evangelization as in today's gospel reading. I would like to highlight it in three areas.

Duty of evangelization

Jesus' framework of evangelism starts with the commissioning of the seventy. Broadening the task beyond the twelve apostles signaled that this task belongs to all of His disciples. Like Jesus who is Himself the evangelizer, each member of the Church has the duty and responsibility to proclaim and share the Good News. “Evangelization is the everyday work of the Church” (preface) and “every one of the Church's actions has an essential evangelizing character and must never be separated from the duty to help others encounter Christ in faith, the primary goal of evangelization” (par 34).

Task of evangelization

Jesus laid down the conditions for His disciples before sending them out. They were to pray, for it was only God who could give success to their work. They were to bring the gift of peace to those they visited and to heal the sick. Jesus’ way of evangelizing was accompanied by healing and forgiveness. The document called for a rediscovery of the heart of evangelization, “with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, ordinary evangelizing activity can be endowed with renewed vigor” (preface). “In the new evangelization, the love shown to those in spiritual and material need, which is expressed in works of fellowship, solidarity and assistance, speaks louder than words” (par 124).

Attitude of evangelization

Jesus taught His disciples the proper attitude when proclaiming the Good News. They were to move quickly for the proclamation was urgent. They were to trust in God's providence and not to be overjoyed in the defeat of evils but rather rejoiced at being chosen. The Synod agreed that “renewed missionary activity is now more urgent than ever, given the large number of people who do not know Jesus Christ, in not only far-off countries but also those already evangelized” (preface). The document saw a need to regenerate the joy of believing but the Church's enthusiasm must be accompanied by “an ongoing internal renewal, a continuous passing from being evangelized to evangelizing” (par 13).

In summary, Jesus' disciples were to go out and preach the Good News and to be joyful witnesses of the mission. The document concluded with these words: “may the world of our time...… enabled to receive the Good News not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ, and who are willing to risk their lives so that the kingdom may be proclaimed.” The mission of the Church has not changed. It was the same message that Jesus and His disciples spoke------the message of the Kingdom of God. The key is: are we willing and ready to take up the mission?