Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: When we wake up in the morning, let’s make our prayer a hymn of praise to God

Thursday of 12th Week in Course

The critical question Jesus–and Amos for that matter–raises today is one we all have to answer: “why do you think evil in your hearts?” Whether it be the Jeroboams of the world or the Pharisees, or you and I, we human beings think evil in our hearts. When something goes wrong, what is my habitual first thought? Is it “O, thank you Lord”? When we get to that point, we have made progress on the road to holiness. I am not there quite yet.

We think evil in our hearts because our priority is self-preservation and self-aggrandizement. We want by the end of today to be smarter, richer, healthier and–for most of us–thinner. If the other guy has a good day, fine, unless it gets in the way of our good day. Then we are not all that interested in his welfare. Jesus goes home and the neighbors bring a paralyzed man to Him. Jesus forgives his sins. The scribes–who spent all their time writing opinions about the law and judging sin–take vigorous offense because that action breaks their rice bowls. Jesus is the embodiment of the Divine Mercy, and He won’t put up with that narrow-minded pharisaism. Not then, not today. When we wake up in the morning, let’s make our prayer a hymn of praise to God and our question, “what good can I do for another person today, even if it inconveniences myself.”

The Holy Father writes very much in that vein about evangelization: ‘Differences between persons and communities can sometimes prove uncomfortable, but the Holy Spirit, who is the source of that diversity, can bring forth something good from all things and turn it into an attractive means of evangelization. Diversity must always be reconciled by the help of the Holy Spirit; he alone can raise up diversity, plurality and multiplicity while at the same time bringing about unity. When we, for our part, aspire to diversity, we become self-enclosed, exclusive and divisive; similarly, whenever we attempt to create unity on the basis of our human calculations, we end up imposing a monolithic uniformity. This is not helpful for the Church’s mission.

‘Proclaiming the Gospel message to different cultures also involves proclaiming it to professional, scientific and academic circles. This means an encounter between faith, reason and the sciences with a view to developing new approaches and arguments on the issue of credibility, a creative apologetics[109] which would encourage greater openness to the Gospel on the part of all. When certain categories of reason and the sciences are taken up into the proclamation of the message, these categories then become tools of evangelization; water is changed into wine. Whatever is taken up is not just redeemed, but becomes an instrument of the Spirit for enlightening and renewing the world.

‘It is not enough that evangelizers be concerned to reach each person, or that the Gospel be proclaimed to the cultures as a whole. A theology – and not simply a pastoral theology – which is in dialogue with other sciences and human experiences is most important for our discernment on how best to bring the Gospel message to different cultural contexts and groups. The Church, in her commitment to evangelization, appreciates and encourages the charism of theologians and their scholarly efforts to advance dialogue with the world of cultures and sciences. I call on theologians to carry out this service as part of the Church’s saving mission. In doing so, however, they must always remember that the Church and theology exist to evangelize, and not be content with a desk-bound theology.’

If we see ourselves as servants of everyone with whom we come into contact, then whatever our field of expertise, we will put it at the service of others. And, of course, we will always be alert to opportunities to spread the Gospel, either by proclaiming the person of Jesus or His teachings, always by our actions and when possible by our words.

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