“… is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade” — Mark 4:31-32
“…is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened” — Matthew 13:33
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16
Letting your light shine, infusing sacred into the secular, spreading the Good News of the Gospel far and wide to the ends of the earth — The New Evangelization is both our work and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ spoke in parables for those who had ears to hear. Today, his message is no different than it was yesterday: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Christ knew his words would fall on deaf ears. He even said so himself and he forewarned his apostles that they would experience the same apparent failure. Saint Paul had this experience in Athens, when he preached about the Resurrection: “some began to scoff, but others said,
‘We should like to hear you on this some other time.'”
Where Paul believed he had failed, the Holy Spirit planted seeds of conversion in the hearts of future saints. Scott Hahn has a unique insight into how the Holy Spirit was able to work through Paul’s gifts and talents to win souls over for Christ:
I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Jonah.
Jonah was a wimp. However, he somehow unwittingly converted the entire pagan city of Nineveh. It was not Jonah, of course, but God who converted them. Yet would the Ninevites have repented in sackcloth and ashes if it weren’t for Jonah’s triduum of fire and brimstone preaching. Perhaps, the outcome was not exactly the same as Jonah had planned. He did not get to see the fireworks; didn’t get to gloat over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; didn’t get to say, “I told you so!” Jonah was pretty bummed out, afterward.
God, however, was pleased. He used wimpy Jonah to convert Nineveh; he even used Jonah to convert Jonah. He would eventually use the well known story of Jonah as the only sign he would give of his authority and power. For God, even a useless man like Jonah could be very effective.
If God can make use of a wimp like Jonah or a dead man like Lazarus (talk about hopeless) to cause vast multitudes of sinners to repent and believe, why can’t he use you and me? How much more could God do through us if we truly believed? All we need is faith the size of a mustard seed.
The New Evangelization is all about that mustard seed. If you have that in you, you will move mountains and set the world ablaze. So why be a wimp like Jonah, when you can be an apostle like Paul?
The Mission of Vatican II and the New Evangelization
The four main goals of the Second Vatican Council were:
- Renewal: to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful
- Aggiornamento: to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change
- Ecumenism: to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ
- Evangelization: to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church
This, in sum, is the mission of the New Evangelization: to bring the sacred into the secular world; to be the yeast that causes the dough to rise; to let your light shine and be the light of the world, and through Christ, to save it.
Thank you for these recent posts. I’ve been out camping and not responding, but have read and learned much from them. So much valuable information, reminders of what evangelization is all about. I am especially grateful for the insight in this post: that even when Christ spoke, His words sometimes fell on deaf ears. That even when He worked amazing miracles, there were those in the crowd who remained skeptical. I try, sometimes, to share my faith, and feel like I totally miss the boat. I want to be inspiring, to do it all, to make the difference. And I cannot. Thank you for the reminder that it is enough to simply drop the seed, with great humility.
I kind of feel guilty for beating up on Jonah in this post, because for some very odd reason, Jonah has always been an inspiration for me. I think it consists in this: God will use us in ways that defy our reckoning. We may not see the immediate fruits that we expect to see from our labor. The important thing is that God sees our willingness, our intentions, and our fidelity (and our weakness). With that, he can do what he wills.
And he will.
I loved this post. What a great reminder to us all, that if we will just put forth the effort, let it be, God will do the rest. Thanks for post. God Bless, SR
Purity of intention, docility, and as you said, effort — Let go and God will take care of the rest…
“Entrust your ways to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act.” — Psalm 37:5
I will say Amen to that! God Bless, SR