Summary: All the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples, but must carefully discern the Truth.
Thursday of 11th week in course 2015
Joy of the Gospel
St. Paul was quite successful in his divinely-inspired evangelization work. The Holy Spirit moved him to plant Catholic churches in communities throughout Asia Minor and Greece. But the evil one, even though defeated, refuses to give up souls without a fight. That bad spirit stirred up heresy in some of the early Christians, maybe even those who had known Jesus in the flesh, and they would by right of their being “founding members” follow Paul around and try to corrupt his congregations. They were terrific preachers and fooled many. It also appears that they were getting a lot of money as guest speakers. Here the Apostle sarcastically refers to them as hyperlion apostolon, or what I translate “super-duper apostles,” and warns the Corinthians that the Gospel they preach is of “another Jesus,” and the spirit they impart is not the Holy Spirit. We pray daily for the true Holy Spirit to inspire us, and for the Father to deliver us from such evil.
Pope Francis continues his words on spreading the Joy of the Gospel, and reminds us that the Church does so without error: ‘In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization. The people of God is holy thanks to this anointing, which makes it infallible in credendo. This means that it does not err in faith, even though it may not find words to explain that faith. The Spirit guides it in truth and leads it to salvation. As part of his mysterious love for humanity, God furnishes the totality of the faithful with an instinct of faith – sensus fidei – which helps them to discern what is truly of God. The presence of the Spirit gives Christians a certain connaturality with divine realities, and a wisdom which enables them to grasp those realities intuitively, even when they lack the wherewithal to give them precise expression.’
A chemist would think of the Holy Spirit as a kind of emulsifier that makes it possible for the divine and human to commingle. We are not divine, but the Spirit divinizes our weak humanity.
‘In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41). The Samaritan woman became a missionary immediately after speaking with Jesus and many Samaritans come to believe in him “because of the woman’s testimony” (Jn 4:39). So too, Saint Paul, after his encounter with Jesus Christ, “immediately proclaimed Jesus” (Acts 9:20; cf. 22:6-21). So what are we waiting for?
‘Of course, all of us are called to mature in our work as evangelizers. We want to have better training, a deepening love and a clearer witness to the Gospel. In this sense, we ought to let others be constantly evangelizing us. But this does not mean that we should postpone the evangelizing mission; rather, each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are. All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives. In your heart you know that it is not the same to live without him; what you have come to realize, what has helped you to live and given you hope, is what you also need to communicate to others. Our falling short of perfection should be no excuse; on the contrary, mission is a constant stimulus not to remain mired in mediocrity but to continue growing. The witness of faith that each Christian is called to offer leads us to say with Saint Paul: “Not that I have already obtained this, or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Phil 3:12-13).’