THURSDAY HOMILY: He Still Sends Them out Two by Two. New Evangelization and Mission
He still sends us them two by two. We are them - the ones he sends in this hour. He still works His saving and redemptive mission in and through us, because we are members of His Mystical Body, the Church
The Lord who birthed the Church from His wounded side on Golgotha's Hill and died for her is purifying her and renewing her by His Spirit to continue his redemptive work until he returns to bring it to completion. He has been raised from the dead and walks with our feet. This is the Dawn of a New Missionary Age. We are all missionaries. He still sends us out two by two and - equips us with all we need to continue His mission.
The sending of the twelve
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On this Thursday we hear St Marks account of the sending of the Twelve on Mission: "Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick -no food, no sack, no money in their belts."
"They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them." (Mark 6:7-13)
He still sends us them two by two. We are them - the ones he sends in this hour. He still works His saving and redemptive mission in and through us, because we are members of His Mystical Body, the Church. Pope Benedict constantly reminds us that the Church exists to evangelize and that the nature of the Church is missionary.
The Catholic Church has always taught that every single human being on the face of the earth has a right to hear the liberating Gospel message of Jesus Christ as fully revealed in the heart of His Catholic Church. That will be accomplished in this hour by you and me, no matter what our state in life, or specific vocation. We are all baltized into Christ to participate in the saving mission of His Church.
However, in order to be able to engage such a missionary task, many Catholic Christians need to be renewed in their own Baptismal faith through a personal and trasnformative encounter with the Risen Lord. In addition, that encounter needs to be strengthened and secured by solid catechesis in living as a Catholic Christian. This is what is meant by the New Evangelization.
This New Evangelization invites each of us to live our baptismal vocation completely given over to the work of the Lord. It is meant to bring about an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can undertake a new missionary outreach to the whole world. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical mission.
How many Catholics understand the implications of their own Baptism? How many know what the Church really teaches? How many truly experience the Church as a mother, or live in the Church as a communion? How many have come to perceive the Church as "Some - One" rather than some-thing?
However, it is precisely this kind of living faith which informs, inspires and fuels missionaries.
Is it supposed to only be the experience of the mystics, the talk of the Saints and Fathers? Or, is it supposed to be the truly common experience of every Christian? The answer is clear; it is supposed to be the common experience of all Christians. That includes you and me.
In Catholic theology we teach what the early fathers, Saints and Councils throughout the ages have all affirmed; to belong to Jesus is to belong to His Body, the Church. Our membership in the Church is a participation in the life of God; what the Apostle Peter referred to as a "participation in the Divine nature". (2 Peter 1:4) Through our Baptism the Church becomes our home, the privileged place in which we live our lives in Christ. To perceive, receive and to live this requires continuing conversion.
In its treatment of the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." (CCC#845)
Because the Church is human and divine, her members still sin. Sometimes evil takes root in weak spots and rots her from within. However, the promise of Christ is reliable; "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18) To the Church has been entrusted the Sacraments and the Word, the gift of a teaching office and the very means of salvation for all men and women.
The Church is not an optional extra that we add to our lives, she is our life. We live in Christ for the sake of the world. From the Lord's wounded side she was birthed at the tree of Calvary, the altar of the new world. She is the seed of the kingdom to come and makes that kingdom present in a world waiting to be reborn.
I believe we are at the beginning of a great resurgence in the Catholic Church precisely for this new missionary age. Just when her opponents are ready to count the Catholic Church out, the sleeping giant is rising. Along with the needed purification of the Church, the seeds of a new springtime are beginning to sprout.
For example, the ecclesial movements are flourishing; new and renewed religious communities are growing and new and renewed Colleges and Universities, desirous of being fully and faithfully Catholic, are sending out missionaries into every segment of the fields which are ripe for harvest. There is a growing dynamically orthodox Catholic faith and life being manifested among the lay faithful.
The movement of our Anglican friends into full communion, the growing number of other Christians' coming home to the full communion of the Catholic Church, the movement toward the healing of the division between East and West, are all signs of a resurgent Catholic Church at the dawn of a new missionary age.
The Lord who birthed the Church from His wounded side on Golgotha's Hill her and died for her is purifying her and renewing her by His Spirit to continue his redemptive work until he returns to bring it to completion. He has been raised from the dead and walks with our feet. This is the Dawn of a New Missionary Age. We are all missionaries. He still sends us out two by two and - equips us with all we need to continue His mission.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Mission, redemption, two by two, evangelization, new evangelization, sent out, Good news, Gospel, Deacon Keith Fournier
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