5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “If a person has not found something he or she will die for, he or she is not fit to live.” While John Wesley said, “Give me one hundred men and women, who love nothing but God, who hate nothing but evil, and who know nothing but Jesus, and I will change the world.” Both quotations are good descriptions or illustrations of dedication. Just to add, somebody gave this beautiful definition: “Dedication is writing your name on the bottom of a blank sheet and handing it to the Lord for him to fill in.”
We can see or read about St. Paul’s dedication to the preaching of the Gospel in today’s second reading. This is the sense we get when he says, “If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!” With these words, Paul is laying out for us what is at the very center of his life: evangelization or the preaching of the Gospel, the Good News of God’s self-giving love in Jesus Christ. Paul’s dedication is so intense that he is ready to do anything to spread the Good News.
What is it about preaching the Gospel that provided such an irresistible motivation for Paul? St. Lawrence of Brindisi offers this answer: “Preaching is an apostolic and divine task.” “God’s word is so rich that it is a treasury of every good.” “From it flow faith, hope, love, all the virtues, the many gifts of the Spirit, all the evangelical beatitudes, all good works and merits – the whole glory of paradise.” “God’s word is light to the mind and fire to the will so that a person may know and love the Lord.”
Paul recognizes that the kingdom of God has broken into the world through Jesus Christ and that the word of God will bring life and salvation to all people who believe. Thus, he was impelled to proclaim the Good News, for the salvation of the world depended on it. In other words, his dedication to the preaching of the Gospel comes from his burning desire to help people be saved. How? By telling the world of God’s love – of how God gave his only Son to save us, of how Jesus offered himself to redeem us, of how Christ conquered sin and death for us.
God wants to fill each of us with this burning desire to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus. As we celebrate 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines, we are reminded that “We are gifted to give.” We have received the gift of Christian faith, we are to share this gift by becoming missionaries and evangelizers in our own little ways.
While the Clergy and Religious Men and Women have a special calling to proclaim the Gospel, lay people share in that role because they too share in the priestly, prophetic and servant-kingly mission of Christ. All of us are invited, and all of us are empowered, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis urges us to “take on the work of the new evangelization marked by Christian joy – make others experience the kind of joy that comes from knowing that God loves us and cares for us.” Upang maipadama natin ang ganitong uri ng kagalakan sa kapwa natin, lalo na sa mahihirap at naghihirap, kailangan ang bawat isa sa atin ay maging laman at dugo ng pag-ibig ng Diyos.
Indeed, God’s love must become incarnate in each of us. A love that is conveyed or articulated as we proclaim the kingdom of liberation and salvation by getting involved in the mission of the Church, which is integral evangelization. A love that is communicated or demonstrated as we promote the kingdom of justice and peace by fighting and working for total human development, which is the new name for peace. A love that is expressed or shown as we give witness to the kingdom of solidarity and compassion by being with the poor, the oppressed, and the deprived. A love that is made manifest as we work for the kingdom of life and joy by being open to the fullness of life the Lord offers and by helping others experience this fullness of life. A love that is seen, felt and touched as we build up the kingdom of blessing and grace by becoming good stewards of God’s gifts – time, talent, and treasure – and by becoming a blessing to others.
To be effective evangelizers, we must strive to bring the Gospel or the good news that is really relevant to the lives of people. It must not just be something that they hear; it must be something that they can feel, touch, smell, and taste. Ang mabuting balita ay dapat kongkreto – nakikita at nahahawakan, nakabubusog at nakagiginhawa, sa katawan at kaluluwa. May we imitate St. Paul in his dedication to the preaching of the Gospel. “Dedication is writing your name on the bottom of a blank sheet and handing it to the Lord for him to fill in.”