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CFC in the New Evangelization


The following is the content of the talk of Bro. Jun Uriarte during the 2nd Global Leaders Empowerment Convention last January 12, 2014. We will be publishing this in two or three parts. Part 1 discusses the Scope of and Need for New Evangelization.

Many of you would remember that in 2002, during the 21st anniversary of Couples for Christ, we had our 5th International Mission Conference in Manila. The theme of that conference was “Going to the Deep”. Today, we are going back to that same verse from the gospel of Luke (Luke 5:4), which says, “…put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch”. But this time, we are going to ponder on this instruction from the Lord to go into the deep, and we will ponder it from the perspective of new evangelization, meaning to say, new evangelization means going to the deep. With that, we start sharing on and asking ourselves what is the scope of, and what is this need for, new evangelization.

Bishop Mercado already shared with us during his homily what new evangelization is all about. But let’s try to reflect and ponder on it. Let us hear what Pope Benedict XVI said about new evangelization. Pope Benedict XVI said new evangelization is new, but not in its content. It is new in its inner thrust; it is new in its methods, which must correspond to the times. It is new because it is necessary to proclaim the gospel. 

Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, defined what new evangelization is all about, the way we should be understanding it today. He said the evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now—not yesterday, not tomorrow, but here and now—to be actively engaged in evangelization. 

He continues, “Indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.” And he proceeds further, “Every Christian is a missionary, to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

And the last part is the most important that we need to ponder and reflect on: “We no longer say that we are disciples and missionaries.” There is no more separation between disciples and missionaries, and this is very important. Because he said, “We should rather call ourselves missionary disciples.”

New evangelization, my brothers and sisters, is necessary. New evangelization is an obligation. As St. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, “Woe to me, if I do not proclaim the gospel.”

And so, let’s ponder: what is the scope of new evangelization? This is very important because as Bishop (Mercado) said, earlier, we defined new evangelization in a very narrow way. Pope John Paul II, in the encyclical Redemptoris Missio, defined new evangelization in a narrow way. But Pope Francis, starting also with Pope Benedict XVI, expanded and widened the definition of new evangelization.

Scope of, and Need for, New Evangelization

Pope Francis identifies three areas for evangelization. These three areas correspond to the three situations that Pope John Paul II mentioned in Redemptoris Missio. The first area is that of ordinary pastoral ministry, where “new evangelization is aimed to inflame the hearts of the faithful to preserve a deep and sincere faith and regularly or occasionally take part in community worship” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium). This means us. 

For those who have heard of Jesus Christ, and knows the story of Jesus, what is needed is ‘mending the nets’—pastoral care. We have to ensure that the fish we have already caught do not escape through the holes of the net. And we therefore need to mend the nets. That is the ordinary pastoral ministry. In Redemptoris Missio of Pope John Paul II, this is not called new evangelization, it is just an ordinary pastoral care of the faithful. And that is why this is very important, because from Pope Benedict XVI, and now our current Pope, they have now included even our pastoral care to our own members in the community of Couples for Christ. Our mending of our nets is included in the definition of new evangelization. When we talk of new evangelization, it includes the leaders’ pastoral concern over those under him.

The second area is that of those of the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism, who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith. And Pope Francis continues, “Here, the aim of new evangelization is to help them experience a conversion that will restore (emphasis added) the joy of faith to their hearts and inspire a commitment to the Gospel.” This is what Redemptoris Missio defines as new evangelization or re-evangelization—those who have heard about Christ, those who used to be faithful to the Church, but somehow have fallen slowly away from the Church.

Redemptoris Missio defined this as new evangelization or re-evangelization, Evangelii Gaudium also defines it also and includes it in new evangelization. This is what we have been doing since 1981. We have been inviting Catholics, and occasionally other Christians to the Christian Life Program, and the attempt that with the power of the Holy Sprit, we will be able to restore the joy of the gospel. And that was new evangelization with Pope John Paul II, it is still new evangelization in Pope Francis.

And finally, the third are of new evangelization as now defined in a wider sense covers those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. And again, it is very clear in the words of Pope Francis, “The aim of new evangelization is to proclaim the gospel, appearing as people who wish to share their joy.” 

When you proclaim the gospel, you do not proselytize. But what do you do? You appear as people who wish to share their joy—the joy that we experience in the community, we wish to share with them that joy, “pointing to a horizon of beauty and inviting others to a delicious banquet.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium) This, in Redemptoris Missio, is missio ad gentes—the mission to the Gentiles. In the narrow sense of Redemptoris Missio, this was missio ad gentes, and not new evangelization. We have not yet fully entered into missio ad gentes, but now, because of the wider definition of new evangelization, and because the laity is especially called to new evangelization, then all three areas now are included in our work in the community of Couples for Christ.

We pastor our own members—that’s new evangelization. We re-evangelize those who have fallen away from the Church—that’s new evangelization. And then we go to non-Christian countries, non-Christian regions—and that is still new evangelization.


Added on Saturday, February 8, 2014


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