April 26, 2013
Pope Francis, good old-fashioned Jesuit evangelizer that he is, has been speaking lately about spreading the Gospel. This week when we celebrated the feast of St. Mark, the Holy Father noted that shortly before ascending into heaven Jesus instructed His disciples to “Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15). After His ascension St. Mark tells us that “…they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them…”.
The good news was not to be restricted to the Jews, but the disciples were to carry it to the end of the world. The Holy Father said:
Go all over the world. The horizon … great horizon… And as you can see, this is the mission of the Church. The Church continues to preach this to everyone, all over the world. But she does not go forth alone: she goes forth with Jesus. So they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord acted with them.
The Lord works with all those who preach the Gospel. This is the magnanimity that Christians should have. A pusillanimous Christian is incomprehensible: this magnanimity is part of the Christian vocation: always more and more, more and more, more and more, always onwards!
The politically correct Christians who have compromised with the world must squirm in their seats at being called “pusillanimous.” We can’t hide behind false “prudence” or fake “obedience” when leaders, political or ecclesiastical, who should be setting a good example and speaking the truth, are undermining the Gospel every day. In our own small ways, we must be the counterpoint to their deceit, and where we are able, call them to account.
Catholics are especially fortunate to have both Sacred Scripture and Tradition along with the Magisterium, to guide us in our witness. However, the manner of our witness has to be according to the criteria set forth by St. Peter in his first letter as Pope Francis said in his sermon.
The style of evangelical preaching should have this attitude: humility, service, charity, brotherly love. “But … Lord, we must conquer the world!” That word, conquer, doesn’t work. We must preach in the world. The Christian must not be like soldiers who when they win the battle make a clean sweep of everything.
The Christian proclaims the Gospel with his witness, rather than with words. This is divine – it is like a tension between the great and the small…
When we go forth with this magnanimity and humility, when we are not scared by the great things, by the horizon, but also take on board the little things – humility, daily charity – the Lord confirms the Word. And we move forward. The triumph of the Church is the Resurrection of Jesus. But there is first the Cross. Today we ask the Lord to become missionaries in the Church, apostles in the Church but in this spirit: a great magnanimity and also a great humility. So be it.
I can’t help but think of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She founded her religious community not to evangelize, but to serve the poor and dying. Yet her conduct was one of the loudest proclamations of the Gospel in the latter twentieth century and she preached it to the end of the world. What she accomplished was done with Jesus and by no other means than through His power and mercy.
Many towns and neighborhoods have their own little Mother Teresas. They have their own little Francis of Assisis, their own Don Boscos, their own Gianna Mollas, all doing their work with and for the Lord. All being His strong back, His arms, legs, and feet. All sustained by Him.
Jesus’ command is for all of us. He is an equal opportunity employer who discriminates against no one. He gives all of us the opportunity and grace necessary to follow Him and spread His word. As Christians, we have no greater adventure in our lives than to bring the Gospel to the end of the world.
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