Praised be Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
One of the main themes of the Year of Faith is that of the New Evangelization. The New Evangelization is about preaching the Gospel to the people of the new millennium…most particularly to Christians who have abandoned their faith due to secularism. Many people have the false impression that the New Evangelization is all about new methods and new gadgets. How do we modernize our preaching? Should we use the power point for our homilies? Should we make use of the social networking sites? What gadgets should we use? Pope Francis opens for us a new perspective of the New Evangelization. In the Chrism Mass 2013, he admonished priests: “We need to ‘go out’, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the ‘outskirts’ where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.” “…grace, (which) comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.” The Pope constantly reminds us that the Church must not wait for people to come to her. Rather, the Church should go out to search for and meet people. Before speaking of new gadgets and methods, we must bring the gospel to people by meeting and knowing the people we serve personally. This is a more effective way of evangelizing. This is the way that the Lord Jesus shows us in today’s feast of his Sacred Heart. Today, the Lord shows us that his Sacred Heart is the heart of the Good Shepherd. His Heart is a Shepherd’s Heart that does not only make sure that his sheep graze in good pasture or drink from flowing waters. His Heart is one that searches for the lost. He does not let up in searching until he finds that one that got away and carries it in his arms and places it back within the fold. Frustrated with the negligence of the shepherds of Israel, the Lord declares: I will do it myself. I myself will look after and tend my sheep…I will rescue them from every place where they are scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I will bring them back to their own country. The Heart of Christ is open to accept all people. So must also be the heart of the Church. The Church must open her arms to all people. She must go in search for the lost and welcome those who she finds. In fact, Pope Francis criticizes certain pastoral customs that have made the Church look unwelcoming. He puts as an example certain churches that do not admit to baptism the children born out of wedlock. Why deny children the salvation that Baptism accords simply because their parents are not married. Or consider some parish secretaries who, at first meeting with applicants for weddings, immediately discuss fees and requirements. The Pope asks: should we not first express joy that the couple is coming to Church to get married?
The Heart of Jesus is an open heart. He searches for the lost and he welcomes those he finds. Our work is to go to the highways and byways of the world in search for the lost. Our work is to search and to bring them back to the fold. It will be the Holy Spirit’s work to bring about the conversion of those we find. Let us not limit the church to the number of the pious and devout. The Church is also for sinners and especially for sinners. It is not for us to look down at people and say: his kind is not for this place. When Christ mounted the wood of the Cross, he stretched out his arms to embrace all men. “Everything given to me by my Father will come to me and no one who comes to me will I ever reject.” Let us open our arms and our hearts as Christ opened his arms and heart.
“The HEART OF JESUS is an open heart. Spend your time there...It is not an ordinary school...It is a school of Jesus where you come to learn. What have we to learn? To be meek and humble; if we are meek and humble we will learn to pray. If we learn to pray we will belong to Jesus. If we belong to Jesus we will learn to believe and if we believe we will learn to love and if we love we will learn to serve." - Bl. Mo. Teresa
Sacred Heart of Jesus, may your kingdom come!