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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Our Work of Evangelization (A Perspective on Covid - 19 Part 17)

Today’s readings:

Acts 2:42-47

Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

although now for a little while you may

have to suffer through various trials”

(1 Peter 1:6b)

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Let us always be mindful of God’s mercy. “Let those who fear the Lord say, his mercy endures forever.” (Ps 118:4). God loves us with an eternal love and will always be there for us. However, there will be challenges, suffering and pain in life. Our salvation was won through suffering and pain. So the cross is salvific, and Jesus tells us to embrace our crosses. It is part and parcel of God’s design for our lives.

Today the world’s, and our, biggest cross is COVID-19. Aside from deaths and economic woes, COVID-19 has kept us, MFC, from going forth and vigorously pursuing our life and mission. But our call, indeed that of the Church, is crucial to God’s plan for the world. Our call is all about salvation, which is the greatest manifestation of the mercy of God. This salvation was won through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pt 1:3).

What is the purpose of God in bringing His people together in the Christian faith? What is the purpose of the Church? What is our purpose in MFC?

This is “the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Pt 1:9). Jesus came to win for us our salvation. “The Lord, my strength and might, has become my savior.” (Ps 118:14). At the end, we look to making it to heaven, “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Pt 1:4). Our life in this world is just an interregnum, an earthly pilgrimage. During this time, we are to fully live out our faith, as we “by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.” (1 Pt 1:5).

Now the Church has been called by God to proclaim this salvation in Jesus. She is a missionary Church. She carries out what Jesus instructed the apostles. “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (Jn 20:21). Christians are to go forth and to do the very work of Jesus, to help bring salvation to people’s lives. They are to share Christ so that people might meet Christ and start to live Christ. In so doing, the people help assure their salvation. Our faith is “to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” (Jn 20:31).

As such, the early Christian Church was into rapid and massive evangelization, which eventually became a worldwide movement. The Christian life was focused on God and on reaching others. Christians then witnessed to their faith, as they were “praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:47a). And the result? “And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47b). Every day!

The Christian life therefore has two important dimensions—inward and outward. Inwardly, the first Christians grew in their faith. “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:42). These were the essential tools to growth in the Christian life—formation, a shared community life, the Eucharist and prayer. This is about our love for God.

The outward dimension, aside from their work of evangelization, was helping their fellow believers. This is about love of neighbor. The early Christian community did this by practicing stewardship of their possessions and sharing with the needy. “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.” (Acts 2:44-45).

Now we in MFC, as Christians, as an integral part of the Catholic Church, also are called to the work of evangelization, to living a shared life together, and to helping build the Church of the Poor. Our shared life enables us to be strong and unified for evangelization and work with the poor. For the early Christians, “every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.” (Acts 2:46a). We in MFC meet regularly though not daily, and we pray, whether individually or as families in the temples that are our homes or whenever we congregate in households and assemblies.

With the lockdown, we are unable to break bread in the homes of our household hosts, and we are unable to participate in the Eucharist and receive our Lord in Holy Communion. But all the more, this should encourage us to not take these matters for granted, but to look to them as of the utmost value in our life as Christians, as Catholics, and as MFC.

So we look on COVID-19 in the perspective of our Christian life and call. If we remain faithful to God, embracing and enduring the crosses that come our way, we will see God’s victory in our lives. “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials” (1 Pt 1:6). So we endure and learn from this chastisement from God, “so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pt 1:7).

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever.” (Ps 118:24,1). Let us truly “rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Pt 1:8c-9).

So today, locked down by secular authorities, but locked in to the love and mercy of God, let us look to the importance of our mission. And let us eagerly look forward to the time when we can again go full force as God’s holy warriors.

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