Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
July 7th, 2013
Year C

The terms ‘evangelize’ or ‘evangelization’ comes from the Greek term ‘evangelion’, which means ‘good news.’ If a person has good news it obviously must be shared. Evangelization, therefore, really has its founding in the Greek term ‘kerygma’ – from the root ‘keryx’ – which denotes a herald charged with official proclamations. In the gospels it is used to designate the preaching of the Kingdom of God. It can, therefore, be defined more accurately in action rather than in words. This is precisely the commission Jesus gives His disciples in this Gospel passage from St. Luke. He sends them out to proclaim the good news – to evangelize.

That which strikes me, though, is that Jesus does not sugarcoat the commission. He tells them: “I am sending you as lambs among wolves.” In other words, be prepared for persecution, betrayal, denial, and threats of all kinds because it will not be easy. He goes on: “carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals…” as if to say: trust solely in me. As St. Gregory the Great comments: “This will ensure that worry about providing temporal things for himself does not distract him from providing others with eternal things” (Evangelia homiliae, 17). If the herald has such trust in God then hardship, persecution, will be mingled with joy knowing that God is firmly at his side. This is the message of Isaiah in the first reading and it is the experience of the disciples on their return from mission. For they were able to experience Isaiah’s words firsthand: “the Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.”

From Baptism onwards every Christian is called by the Lord and sent on mission. The Church, therefore makes appeal to all the baptized, the laity in a particular way, “to give willing, noble, and enthusiastic response to the voice of Christ, who at this hour is summoning them more pressingly…” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, n. 33). And here, Our Lord says to us as He did to His disciples: “I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” This is what makes evangelization so difficult for many people. I think that there three major obstacles to evangelization in today’s society.

Fear: We are too afraid of the wolves that out there, we are afraid to stand up for what is right, true and good, we are afraid that people will not like us, we are afraid of offending people or hurting a person’s feelings, and so on.

Relativism: The culture in which we live has convinced us that there is no truth. The opinions of others are held up as an individual personal truth. Religion, therefore, is solely a private matter and is to remain between an individual and God. It is none of my business, then, to speak or proclaim this good news – to evangelize.  

Sense of Sin: We have lost a sense of moral responsibility. In this way of living, it seems like it is every man for himself. Each person chooses to live a certain way and, again, it is none of my business telling a person how to live their lives. But this attitude only fosters a growing culture of death. This is the contraceptive mentality of the day – do what you feel like with no consequences. The result is not life, not joy, but rather bondage and enslavement to sin to the point where sin becomes unrecognizable. Thus bringing about the death of soul.

This is why our Church and our world is in need of good news. When a person has good news to tell he or she doesn’t bottle it up thinking that it is no one’s business. On the contrary, he or she wants to spread it because when good news is shared among family and friends it enhances people’s lives. As a Church and as individual Christians, we have forgotten what – or rather WHO – the good news really is. In his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, the soon-to-be saint, Bl. Pope John Paul II offers a three-fold summary of evangelization. He states that:

“Evangelization is not only the Church’s living teaching, the proclamation of the faith (kerygma), and instruction, formation in the faith (catecheo); it is also the wide-ranging commitment to reflect on truth” (pg 107).

It is not only about proclamation, instruction, and formation but also about the contemplation of the truth. What is truth? Who is truth? In St. John’s Gospel that question is answered where Jesus Himself states: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). At the very heart of evangelization, in our mission in proclaiming the good news, there is need to first contemplate the truth and that truth is Christ Himself. We cannot begin to bear the message if we first do not know Jesus. If we do not know Jesus than we cannot be convinced of the truth. And if we are not convinced then we fall victim to the wolves. The key to evangelization, the key to responding confidently to go out on mission for Christ is to know Him personally and deeply.

During this Year of Faith, we can do three things in order to have greater knowledge of Jesus – in order to enter into greater contemplation of Him:

  1. Memorize the Creed
  2. Study the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  3. Read the Holy Father’s Encyclical on Faith
  4. Go on a pilgrimage – if one is able.

In these ways do we help ourselves to avoid being a part of the obstacles to proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ. Instead, we become a means for Him to enter the world. Then will we begin to understand and experience for ourselves those words of the prophet Isaiah: “the Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.”













Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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