March 21, 2021 - The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Christendom and Apostolic Mission: Bare Minimum Can Lead to Maximum Results
We continue this Lenten pastor column series on Christendom and Apostolic Mission, and this week, we will observe how the Apostles themselves managed to do so much with so little, given the reality that all they had to go on was their witness to Christ…and that was enough.
Consider this: in our modern culture whenever someone wants to launch a major campaign or grand-scale project, it is fused into our brains that we need to sit down and calculate the cost; the Lord Himself famously counsels likewise (Luke 14:25-33). But Jesus was speaking about the cost
. When He calls us, “Follow Me,” we had better be certain that we at least an idea of what we are getting ourselves into. After that, however, the burden of calculating the cost becomes much easier because the biggest decision (following Jesus) already has been made.
Consider the Apostles. The remaining Eleven (after the departure of Judas Iscariot) already had answered “yes” to the call of Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles, one can imagine what perhaps their apostolic roundtables were like:
Agenda: to proclaim the Gospel to all the world
Priests: same number
Religious orders: none
Fellow Christians: a few hundred
Church buildings: none
School buildings: none
Any other building: one (the Upper Room)
Money: nearly none
Influential contacts in high places: nearly none
Climate of the wider culture: ignorant at best, hostile at worst
Given all of that, the modern mind fogs over at the sheer impossibility of getting anything accomplished. And yet, what they accomplished literally changed the world forever. How? After all, overall, they had next to nothing: the eleven of them, an assortment of fellow believers, and a story to tell. But they were also filled with faith, hope, and love, joy and peace and all other good things besides because they had confidence in the Lord, in His promise, and in the Gospel truth.
The Church today needs to embrace this same apostolic zeal; we need that same confidence in the Lord and in the power and glory of the Gospel message that He has given us, too, to proclaim to a world that desperately needs it. Because the world and its powers-that-be need to reminded and convinced of the truth that Jesus alone is the answer to every human ill, the solution to every human problem, and the only hope for a dying race. The world hates to hear the bad news, that the human race, by its own rebellion, has brought a curse upon itself and has sold itself in slavery to the prince of darkness, and there is nothing that we can do under our own power to save ourselves. Which is why the world needs the Good News, that the Lord in His mercy has come to us to set us free from our sins and from slavery to Satan, and for those who turn to their true allegiance, the nightmare of life apart from God can be transformed into a dawn of eternal hope. Obedience to the Gospel is perfect freedom, and holiness leads to happiness.
Next week, we will reflect upon some specific applications of these matters for institutions of the Church as well as for individual members of the Church.
~ Fr. Lewis
on Saturday, March 20 at 3:00PM