In today’s Scripture reading from the Gospel of Luke, notice that the Lord appointed 72 “others,” not “The 12” Apostles. Why was that? Why one group and not the other?
Jesus has a long-term, strategy in place for a “new evangelization.” He was calling people to see the Roman and Greek world in a new light, to see the Jewish religion and other non-Jewish peoples in a new light and to see themselves in a new light. Thus, the 72 were an “Advance Team.” Their target audience was the Jews, not the Gentiles (yet!). The seeds of that harvest were not yet planted. The Jewish harvest was ready now.
Christ’s tactics were four-fold:
- To identify the talent
- To call them to follow Him
- To teach, train and equip them for the task
- To send them out on their mission
How do we see this in a more modern context? In 1979, John Paul II visits Poland for the first time. In 1989 the Berlin Wall comes down. Six years before that, In 1983, Pope John Paul II addressed the Catholic bishops of Latin America in Haiti. The Pope is looking at the world and, seeing a similar situation to the time of Christ, proposed – more of a vision, than a strategy – which he termed the “New Evangelization.” It’s components are familiar:
To see the World … in a new light
To see the Church… in a new light
To see the Themselves… in a new light
The Holy Father spoke about, “new ardor, new methods and new expressions.” He based his statements on Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation, on evangelization Evangelii Nuntiandi, Paragraph 18,
“From this there will derive choices, values, attitudes and modes of behavior capable of orienting and defining our Christian life and of creating new people, and hence a new humanity, for the conversion of the individual and social conscience.”
Pope John Paul II especially called for changes in the view of laity. Up until then, they were considered mere recipients of the spiritual gifts of the Church. They were to “Pray, Pay and Obey.” In terms of how they saw their role in the church, they might say, “Meet my friend Sherry. She’s not ordained.”
John Paul II and Benedict and Francis have said, No! ALL Catholics have been given a mission. You are a people who:
- Have an office
- Have been given a “mandate.” This means that you simultaneously have authority and a right and a duty.
- You have been provided resources.
- You are to be “sent forth.”
All Catholics are consecrated for a mission. This means asking yourself. Where am I sent? To whom am I sent? What do I do once I get there?
Point of clarity. We’re not talking about doing the “religion thing” here. Thus you have to understand the difference between “secular” and “sacred.” It does not mean “sacred” is about things that are good and about religion and holy stuff. “Secular,” meanwhile, is not defined as non-religion things that have nothing to do with God and are often bad.
Secular is the holy place into which you are sent. The holy place is no longer just the church building, parish school, rectory, convent … Now the holy place is home, workplace, public schools, university, entertainment centers, sports venues. It also certainly does not mean we do religious, churchy things there. You do what you normally do there. If an athlete – play ball. If a scientist – experiment. If a businesswoman or executive – make some money. If a musician – practice and play at the recital.
Do it well! Do it with a sense of responsibility and excellence and joy and happiness. Do it in a way that people will be drawn to what you do and ask, “What is it about him or her that’s different? We’re all doing the same thing. Why is it that, when they do it, it just has a different feel about it?”
THAT’S doing it for the greater glory of God. John Paul II calls it “The New Humanism.”
This will encourage people:
To see you… in a new light
To see the World … in a new light
And when they want to know what’s different about you – invite them.
To begin to see faith … in a new light
To begin to see the Church… in a new light
To begin to see God … in a new light
And to begin to see the Themselves and their mission
… in a new light
Audio version of the homily is here: