"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation." Mk 16:15
In his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis said that:
“The XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that gathered from 7 – 28 October 2012 to discuss the theme: The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, reaffirmed that the new evangelisation is a summon addressed to all baptised members of the Catholic Church. It is a call that it is to be carried out in three principal settings”. The three settings were: 1) ordinary pastoral ministry (to inflame the hearts of the faithful), 2) outreach to “the baptised whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism”, and 3) evangelisation to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected Him.
Our annual Evangelisation Rally is our way of responding to the three settings mentioned above:
A pastoral ministry (to inflame the hearts of the faithful). It is our way as a community to collectively be empowered by the Holy Spirit and inflame each other’s heart. It is our way of starting the New Year with a renewed zeal, vigour and courage to commit to our call to preach the Good News of Jesus in this part of the world.
Our Evangelisation Rally is not just to listen to the exhortation from a Bishop or a priest, listen to a couple of talks by our elders, present our plans and objectives for the new year and feel good by the experience. Rather, it is to ponder in our hearts the message of exhortation and talks, be inspired, empowered and be ready to fulfil our Baptismal call to share the Good News of Jesus with our loved ones, friends, co-workers and neighbours.
To reach out to “the baptised whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism”. Our Evangelisation Rally is our way to kick-start the New Year and to remind each other of our call to evangelise and to inspire each other to reach out to “the baptised whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism”. They are those:
a) baptised Catholics who have been absent from the Church for a while (the lapsed Catholics), b) nominal Catholics (those who occasionally go to Church and attend Mass at weddings, funeral or baptism of a family member), and c) Catholics who regularly go to Church and active in the Parish but not engaged in evangelisation work ie not preaching the Good News of Jesus. To them, Christian faith is a personal matter.
To evangelise those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected Him.In our yearly evangelisation plans, we must also endeavour to reach out to the third setting mentioned above:
Firstly, evangelise those who do not know Jesus Christ. Some of our brothers and sisters are active in the Church RCIA program. Those who finished the RCIA program and baptised on Easter Sunday need to be continuously supported in their faith journey. We can offer our programs to the Parish to cater for them.
Secondly, evangelise those who have always rejected Jesus. Perhaps in our discussions with our workmates, neighbours or even friends, we may encounter this category of people. As servants of the Jesus and workers in His Vineyard, do we have the courage to “propose” to them to explore our Christian faith? We may and will experience rejections but we can only propose, not impose. (St John Paul II, Encyclical Letter “Redemptoris Missio (Mission of the Redeemer)
Our evangelisation plans must cater for these three categories of Catholics. Otherwise, we are not into the new evangelisation as called for by St John Paul II.
Conclusion: Evangelisation Rally is not about fun fare or to showcase our dancing, singing, chanting or rallying skills. It is not to have a “feel good experience” during and after the rally. Rather it is our way and opportunity to come together as a community to renew our commitment to Jesus to go out and actively share His Good News to others. It is our way to ask Jesus to bless our community, our work of evangelisation and mission and be empowered by the Holy Spirit, to be bold, aggressive and zealous in doing His will. It is our way of starting the New Year with renewed commitment as Families in the Holy Spirit Renewing the Face of the Earth.
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Mt 12:30
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Mt 9:37
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mt 28:19-20
“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” Mk 16:15
The above are just few of the passages in the Bible where Jesus commissioned us to share His Good News to others, to be workers in His Vineyard. And we need to respond with humility, conviction and courage, not a passive response but an aggressive response to spread the Gospel. Jesus has given us all the necessary resources we need to do His work: our time, talents and treasures. Most importantly, we have the Holy Spirit who is always with us to guide, to help and to protect us in our journey and we have Jesus’ promise that He will be with us always. There is really nothing more we need if we really believe that “God is Enough”. Do you honestly and sincerely believe that God is Enough?
All we need to do is to obey as faithful servants. So, let us “Rejoice, trust in the Lord, be fruitful and multiply”.
May God be praised and let us glorify the Lord by our lives.