Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The new evangelization

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Eclesalia Informativo
July 11, 2012

Matthew 10:1-7

The need for a new evangelization is being felt in the Church today. What might it consist of? Where might be new about it? What do we have to change? What was really Jesus' intent when He sent His disciples to continue His evangelization task?

Mark's account makes it clear that only Jesus is the source, the inspiration and the model for His followers' evangelizing action. The latter act by His authority. They won't do anything on their own behalf. They are "sent" by Jesus. They won't preach for themselves; they will just proclaim His Gospel. They won't have other interests; they will only devote themselves to making way for the kingdom of God.

The only way to impel a "new evangelization" is to purify and strengthen this relationship with Jesus. There will be no new evangelization if there are no new evangelists, and there will be no new evangelists if there isn't a more vivid, lucid and passionate contact with Jesus. Without it, we will do everything but introduce His Spirit into the world.

On sending them, Jesus doesn't leave His disciples to rely on their own strength. He gives them His "authority", which is not power to control, rule, or dominate others, but His strength to "cast out unclean spirits," freeing people from what enslaves, oppresses, and dehumanizes individuals and society.

The disciples know very well what Jesus has tasked them with. They have never seen Him ruling over anybody. They have always known Him to heal wounds, alleviate suffering, regenerate life, liberate from fear, spread confidence in God. "Healing" and "liberating" are priority tasks in the work of Jesus. They would put a radically different face on our evangelization.

Jesus sends them forth with what is necessary for the journey. According to Mark, they will only carry "a walking stick, sandals and one tunic". They don't need anything else to testify to what is essential. Jesus wants to see them free and without any attachments, always available, without settling into the good life, trusting in the force of the Gospel.

Without regaining this evangelical style, there will be no new evangelization. The important thing is not initiating new activities and strategies, but letting go of the habits, structures and obligations that are preventing us from being free to spread the essence of the Gospel in truth and simplicity.

The Church has lost this itinerant style that Jesus suggests. Its tread is slow and heavy. It fails to accompany humanity. We don't have the agility to go from one culture to another. We cling to the power we have had. We become entangled in interests that don't go along with the kingdom of God. We need conversion.

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