THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for January 10th, 2014
Liturgical texts here
THERE has been a lot of teaching on evangelization in this week’s reflections, but it all comes down to this: letting the message of Christ’s love penetrate, challenge, change, and transform you. Otherwise, the imperative of evangelizing will remain but a lovely theory, a distant stranger whose name you know, but whose hand you’ve never shaken. The problem with that is every Christian is called in obedience to be an emissary for Christ. cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 5 How? By first of all moving “from a pastoral ministry of mere conversation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry.” POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 15
That is the meaning of St. John’s words this week when he says, “We love, because He first loved us.” Because I have encountered God’s mercy, because I have felt His presence, because I have tasted His goodness and entered into a process of letting Him heal my wounds, I have something to tell others with the same mercy I have been shown. I know that my life, and joys and sufferings now have purpose. And so I want to give others purpose—eternal purpose.
What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known? If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts. We need to implore his grace daily, asking him to open our cold hearts and shake up our lukewarm and superficial existence. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 264
In today’s first reading, St. John rhetorically asks:
Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
To “believe” is not merely acknowledging that Jesus lived 2000 years ago, but that He lives now in me as Lord and Savior, Healer and Consoler. It is to believe and trust that I am loved.
Do you believe that you are loved? Do you believe that Jesus wishes to heal and console you? He answers you in today’s Gospel:
I do will it. Be made clean.
Knowing that He truly has your happiness at heart, only then does “perfect love” begin to drive out fear because you have begun to trust in His will. And when fear dissipates, victory over the world becomes tangible; confidence and boldness grows; love and zeal are set aflame—all this, despite your remaining faults.
We are not asked to be flawless, but to keep growing and wanting to grow as we advance along the path of the Gospel; our arms must never grow slack. What is essential is that the preacher be certain that God loves him, that Jesus Christ has saved him and that his love always has the last word. Encountering such beauty, he will often feel that his life does not glorify God as it should, and he will sincerely desire to respond more fully to so great a love. Yet if he does not take time to hear God’s word with an open heart, if he does not allow it to touch his life, to challenge him, to impel him, and if he does not devote time to pray with that word, then he will indeed be a false prophet, a fraud, a shallow impostor. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 151
Even Jesus, as we read in the Gospel, “would withdraw to deserted places to pray.” The Christian who wants to share more and more of Jesus must become a person of prayer, for it not only fills him with grace, but reveals how much he needs grace to do anything good for God. Yet…
…by acknowledging his poverty and desiring to grow in his commitment, he will always be able to abandon himself to Christ, saying in the words of Peter: “I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give you” (Acts 3:6). —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 151
How did the leper feel in today’s Gospel when, immediately after healing him, Jesus wastes no time sending him off to share the good news with the temple priest? As it says in the Psalm:
He sends forth his command to the earth; swiftly runs his word!
What difference did the leper feel he could make without catechesis, training, and a Masters in Divinity? But Jesus does not ask him to give anymore than he can, noting that “that will be proof for them.” The leper did, and…
The report about [Jesus] spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments…
You see, you do not need to be a theologian to be a missionary. You just need to be in love! You do not have to be an expert apologist; just share with others what you have been freely given by the Lord. And the more you give, the more you will receive and grow as He will “give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.” cf. Eph 1:17; 2 Cor 9:8
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. (2 Cor 1:3)
…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? —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 120
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