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In Today’s Church, Who Is Evangelizing Whom?

As the Lord Jesus was preparing to ascend to the Father, He gave His Apostles and the nascent Church that surrounded them, the Great Commission. He told them boldly, “Go therefore 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 everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The commission was taken to heart and the apostles and disciples went throughout the known world, with Saint Thomas reaching India, Saint James the Greater preaching in Spain, and Saint Mark and others evangelizing in North Africa. The apostolic zeal was unrelenting. A commission was given, and a commission was going to be fulfilled.

The early Christians knew the power of the Gospel and the immense opportunity for eternal life that was being offered to humanity by the Lord Jesus. They wanted to proclaim the liberating message of the Lord to all the world with the hope that all might be saved in Jesus Christ.

The early Church knew they had something that was unparalleled, unmatched, unequaled, and unrivaled by anything in our fallen world. They knew the Gospel to be a “pearl of great price,” as the Lord Jesus told them, and they were willing to do anything to receive it and to provide the opportunity for others to receive it. (cf. Matthew 13:45-46).

They did not succumb to the syncretism of the Greco-Roman world. They refused efforts to merge the Gospel of Jesus Christ with mystery cults, imperial worship, or polytheistic tendencies. The Gospel did not need anything to legitimize or give it credibility. The Gospel stood in its own right and power.

Philosophies and ways of thinking were baptized, but only if they could serve the Gospel. The unicity of the Lord Jesus and the integrity of the Gospel were untouchable. The early martyrs staked their lives on the truths of the Gospel.

Do the successors of the Apostles today still have this level of conviction and zeal? Do Church leaders still regard the Gospel as a pearl of great price?

The famed Reformed theologian Karl Barth was invited to be an ecumenical observer at the Second Vatican Council. Because of poor health, Barth could not attend. But he later visited Rome and was hosted by the Vatican’s Secretariat for Christian Unity. He submitted various questions because he was intrigued by the Council’s vision and methodology. His questions and reflections are gathered together in his book, Ad Limina Apostolorum: An Appraisal of Vatican II.

Read more at The Catholic Thing 

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