Central Idea: Love your neighbor, not “humanity.” Doctrine: The New Evangelization. Practical Application: Participation in the New Evangelization
- Our Lord limited his time on earth: About thirty years of ordinary life, about three years of preaching and miracles, about three hours on the Cross.
- He also limited his presence to in and around Israel.
- Thus, though Our Lord redeemed every human being—past, present, and future—he only physically came to Israel for those few years and only interacted with those people with whom he came into contact. In other words, he accepted the physical limits that are part of our own lives.
- In today’s Gospel, we hear of one interaction witnessed by two large crowds: Jesus Christ raising the son of the Widow of Nain from the dead and giving him back to his mother for her support.
- St. Paul would have liked to preach his Gospel to every person on earth but here he could only address the Galatians who had gotten to know Jesus Christ through him.
- The great prophet Elijah might have liked to raise every widow’s son from the dead but he only came to the aid of the Widow of Zarephath to give her back her son.
- We are not disembodied spirits who can go anywhere and be in multiple places at once. Like Jesus encountering the widow, we can only directly serve those people with whom we come in contact. These are the widow and young man for us.
- There is a danger for us. At one and the same time, we can aspire to do good to every person on earth and yet we can ignore, or neglect, or hurt the people right around us. We can think we are doing good for everyone and not be doing any actual good for anyone.
- There is nothing wrong with having a great love for humanity, but this love must begin with our actual neighbor. As the saying goes, “Love begins at home.”
- As Mother Teresa put it in her Nobel lecture: “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do.”
Doctrine: The New Evangelization
- Evangelization is the proclamation of the Gospel to those who have not heard it leading. It’s goal is their Baptism and their living the Christian life. This is the “old” or “original” evangelization and it is always ongoing.
- The New Evangelization which the modern Popes have been calling for takes place in countries like our own in which the Gospel has been proclaimed, many people have accepted it and even been baptized, but many have grown cold and are in need of a reevangelization. The New Evangelization is preaching the Gospel again to those who have heard it but who have forgotten about it, who may think they don’t want to hear it, or who likely have never “really” heard it.
- A particular difficulty in the New Evangelization is that it often needs to be done in a society which is indifferent to the Gospel or even actively opposed to it—both culturally and even in law.
- Witness the growing intolerance toward Catholics teaching or living basic moral doctrines in regard to human sexuality.
- Witness the effort of the government in the United States to force Catholic employers to pay for contraceptives and abortions.
- On our part, this calls for the kind of courage the early Christians showed.
- Who does the New Evangelization? Every one of us, especially every one of the laity. Only the laity can bring to Gospel into every corner of society. Like Our Lord, we are to bring the Gospel to those we can encounter.
- In our society today, there are many widows in grief and many young men sick or dead due to ignorance and sin. There are many families in need of restoration.
Practical Application: Participation in the New Evangelization
- Apostolate is the overflow of one’s interior life. Therefore, to participate in the New Evangelization, develop an interior life of intimacy with God through mental prayer and the Sacraments, especially frequent reception of the Eucharist. This will make us want to bring the Gospel to those around us and God himself will give us our “marching orders,” suggesting who to talk to and what to say.
- Form sincere friendships with people.
- Pray for a person and make sacrifices before trying to talk about the Faith.
- Get to know the doctrine of the Faith better through study.
- Related to this is apologetics or how to overcome common objections to the faith people have. Ignorance is rampant. Often people are held back by misunderstanding.
- Leave the outcome in God’s hands. You are just an instrument. The Holy Spirit does the interior work.
To view the readings for Lectionary 90, click here.