Practical Principles for Proclaiming the Kingdom

July2-blogIn the Gospel today, Jesus gives a number of practical principles for those who would proclaim the Kingdom. Let’s look at each of them in turn.

I. Serious – The text says, At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

The Lord describes here a very serious situation. There is an abundant harvest, but there are few willing to work at it. Consider the harvest in our own day. Look at the whole human race and think about how many don’t yet know the Lord. There are over 7 billion people on the planet; 1.1 billion are Catholics (many of them lukewarm) and about 750 million are other Christians. This means that more than 2/3 of people on this planet don’t know and worship the Lord Jesus. Here in the U.S., 75% of Catholics don’t even go to Mass.

There are many people today who shrug at this, presuming it’s no big deal because nearly everyone will be saved anyway. Never mind that Jesus said the opposite quite explicitly: many if not most are heading down the road of loss and damnation (e.g. Matt 7:13; Luke 13:24). This myopic presumption and false optimism is unbiblical and, frankly, slothful.

The Second Vatican Council has this to say:

Those can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But very often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasoning and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention (Lumen Gentium 16).

Note that the council Fathers say that very often people are deceived by the Evil One. Did you notice those words, “very often”? The great mass of “ignorant” humanity is not walking into Heaven. Rather, they are deceived and have let themselves be deceived.

Jesus himself said, This is the judgment: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

Yes, the need is urgent. We need to be serious about this. There are many even among our own families and friends who have left the practice of the faith and who are somewhere on the continuum from indifference to outright hostility toward the Holy Faith. We must work to restore them to the Church and to the Lord; otherwise, they are likely to be lost.

Scripture also speaks of many who walk in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed (Eph 4:17-19).

There is work to do, and we must get serious about it. Sadly, too many have not. The decline of the West has happened on our watch. Too many have thought that evangelization is a job for someone else. Welcome to what the silence of the saints has produced.

Note, too, that while this translation says, ask the Lord of the Harvest, the Greek is more emphatic and personal. The Greek word is δεήθητε (deethete, from deomai), which means to beg as if binding oneself. In other words, we are so urgent in this request that we are willing to involve our very self in the solution. This is not a problem just for the Lord or for other people; it is so serious that I am willing to go myself! Do you feel this way about evangelization? It’s time to get serious; many are being lost!

II. Sobriety – The text says, Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.

We must be cognizant that we are being sent into a word that is hostile to the faith. We should not despair or be dismissive of this hostility; we must be sober and clear about it.

Yes, there is an enemy. He is organized, influential, and powerful. Nevertheless, we are not counseled to fear, but to sobriety. We must be aware, but unafraid. Scripture says,

  1. And this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:3 -4).
  2. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over (Ps 23:4-5).
  3. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict (Luke 21:12-15).
  4. For the accuser (Satan) of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night (Rev 12:10).

Therefore, we must be sober without being afraid or discouraged. There is an enemy and the conflict is real, but the victory is already ours.

And old song says,

Harder yet may be the fight,
Right may often yield to might,
Wickedness awhile may reign,
Satan’s cause may seem to gain;
There is a God that rules above,
With hand of power and heart of love,
If I am right He’ll fight my battle,
I shall have peace some day.

III. Serenity – The text says, Into whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this household.” If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. … Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, “The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.” Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.

Note how the Lord counsels us to shake off the dust in the face of rejection. We ought not to take it personally. We ought to remember that it is Jesus they are rejecting, not us. Further, we ought to be serene in the knowledge that just because someone is angry at us, it does not mean that we have done anything wrong.

Yes, we are to be serene and secure in the truth of the message and not consumed with how people react. We need not be strident or argumentative, we don’t have to raise our voices, we don’t need to be fearful, angry, or resentful. All we need to do is to preach the truth serenely and leave the judgment up to God.

IV. Simplicity – The text says, Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.

One of the things that keeps many of us from fully preaching the Kingdom is that we are encumber by so many things and so many activities. The Lord tells us to travel light, for then we shall be unencumbered, available, and free. Too often today, spiritual truths are neglected and crowded out by worldly concerns. Parents will make sure to get their kids to the soccer game, but Sunday school and Mass are neglected. Likewise, many of us are too wealthy, too invested in this world. As a result, we are not free to preach because we feel we have too much to lose.

The Lord calls us to simplicity in three areas:

  1. Purse – The Lord says to carry no moneybag. Riches root us in this world and make us slaves of its ways. Riches are bondage; poverty (freedom from greed) is a kind of freedom, because those who are poorer have less to lose. Scripture says, But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
  2. Possessions – The Lord says to carry no sack, no extra sandals. We are encouraged to resist the tendency to accumulate possessions. These things weigh us down. On account of them we are forever caught up with acquiring the latest fashions, the most recent upgrades, and the most deluxe models. And then all this stuff requires insurance and maintenance. Too much stuff roots us in the world and distracts us from more essential things. Too much stuff, will wear you out. Don’t carry around too much stuff. The Lord advises: travel light; simplify. Scripture says, Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it (Proverbs 15:16).
  3. People – The text says to greet no one along the way. We have to admit that some folks in our life do not help us in our Christian walk or duty. Instead, they hinder us, tempt us, or simply get us to focus on foolish and passing things. In the Gospel passage, the Lord has something for the seventy-two to do and He wants them to get there and do it. This is not a time to stop along the way and chat with every passerby. The same is true for us. We ought to be careful of the company we keep and ponder if our friends and acquaintances help us or hinder us in our task of proclaiming the Kingdom. Scripture warns, Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor 15:33). And again, I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men … I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one (1 Cor 5:9).

Thus the Lord counsels us to travel light, to simplify. Our many possessions weigh us down and make life difficult. Look at the opulence of today, yet notice all the stress. Simplify; travel light. Also, avoid complicating and compromising relationships.

V. Stability – The Lord says, Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another.

In other words, find out where home is, where the Lord wants you, and then stay there. Stop all this modern running around. Develop in-depth relationships and stability. In the old days, long-term relationships served as the basis for the communication of the truths of the faith, not just between individuals, but across generations and in close-knit communities.  In today’s mobile society, things tend to be more shallow.

The Lord counsels that we stay close to home, that we frequent holy places. We ought to do everything we can to find stability and roots. It is in stable contexts and deep roots, deep relationships, that the Gospel is best preached. Many parents today seldom have dinner with their children. Indeed, with all the running around there is little time left to teach or preach the faith!

Scripture warns,

  1. She is loud and wayward, for her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market (Proverbs 7:11-12).
  2. Like a bird that strays from its nest, is a man who strays from his home (Proverbs 27:8).
  3. Sensitivity – Jesus says, Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, “The kingdom of God is at hand for you.”

Be gracious and kind. Simple human kindness and a gracious demeanor go a long way toward opening doors for the Gospel. Eat what is set before you. In other words, wherever possible reverence the local culture; build on common ground; find and affirm what is right. Don’t just be the critic. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Sure there are ways we can be gracious. Little kindnesses are long remembered and pave the way for trust and openness.

That the sick should be cured is clear in itself. But in a more extended sense, we see how kindness, patience, and understanding are also healing. We must speak the truth, but we must learn to speak it in love, not merely in confrontation or harsh criticism.

Simple kindness and sensitivity are counseled here: eat what is set before you.

VII. Soul Saving Joy – The text says, The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

They have the joy of success that day. There will be other days of rejection and even martyrdom. That’s why Jesus counsels us to have a deeper source of joy: merely that they have been called and have their names written in Heaven.

There is no greater evidence to the truth of our faith than joyful and transformed Christians. Mother Theresa said, “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”

Thus the Lord counsels that we cultivate joy at what He is doing for us, how He is delivering us and giving us power over the demons in our life. There is no greater joy than to remember what the Lord has done for us, that He has saved us and written our names in Heaven. Yes, remember! Have so present in your mind and heart what the Lord has done for you so that you are grateful, joyful, and different! This is soul-saving joy, a joy that will save your soul and the souls of others as well.

Here, then, are seven principles for proclaiming the Kingdom. Now let’s get serious; there’s work to be done; many are being lost. It’s time to cast our nets!

8 Replies to “Practical Principles for Proclaiming the Kingdom”

  1. I think we need to be careful on both sides of the isle when talking about many and most go to hell vs many and most go to heaven. I realize this article did not explicitly use the language of many going to hell and few going to heaven but it does allude to this thought process. I would agree this is a serious issue, the harvest is abundant but the harvesters are few, and should never be taken lightly even if most people are saved and make it to heaven or most people aren’t saved and go to hell. On the one hand as the article states we see the excessive attitude of being presumptuous and on the other hand we can see an excessive attitude of despair were people say, what is the point of trying if most people go to hell? This latter attitude is not brought up in the article and I could conclude it is not brought up because the author believes it is more correct to say most people go to hell and doesn’t see the possible down fall this attitude could lead to. In other words, a particular bias to more people got to hell seems evident and it seems clear this bias overlooks the potential pitfall of not harvesting because of an attitude of what is the point and despair.

    I also want to point out the difference in saying many are on the road to damnation and many are dammed. Being on the road to damnation is not saying you are damned or not. This article assume Jesus says most are damned and then accuses people who say many and most are saved are false, unbiblical, and slothful. It is no less presumptive to say most are saved than it is say most are damned.

    I would also like to point out that saying many are damned is not necessarily saying most are damned. I think it is fair to say that to God one is too many to be damned but one is not most. A thousand days is like one day to the Lord shows what is few or many to humans is not few or many to God. Jesus left the flock for the one. Most going to hell is not doctrinal or dogmatic. It might be the prevailing opinion of the church but that opinion seems to be less prevailing in modern times amongst the leaders of the church. I think I have made a relative good case for accepting the most go to heaven opinion. I am not saying the opinion of most going to hell is wrong but I think the author of this article has allowed his personal bias of his own opinion to not see the potential truth in the other sides’ opinion.

    1. We must have the heart and mind of God Himself who wills NOT the death of ANY sinner. But wills that ALL come to the knowledge of Truth and be saved – Jesus is the Truth. That said something came to me a while back on using “reasoned” or “logical” argumentation. If “reason” is not enlightened by Truth (Divine Revelation) it can quickly become unreasonable. When enlightened by Faith (Divine Revelation) the portals open, the light streams in, and you begin to understand more deeply the infinite Goodness, Truth, and Beauty of God. What does the Son of God and God – Jesus have to say about the matter?

      Matthew 7: 13* “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, * that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

      We must not underestimate the battle that we find ourselves in. For I tell you this spiritual battle will make World War I and II look like a walk in the park by comparison when the smoke settles and the dust is blown away into eternity. We need to fight as hard as we possibly can and RELY ON the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit to work towards the salvation of souls. For if we begin to think everyone goes to Heaven – why fight? Eat drink and be merry… No! Fight my brothers and sisters! Stay focused on the front sight (Rosary) until the bitter end!

    2. Fair enough, but we ought not make many mean few. And it isn’t just the Matthew 7 quote, but the Lord spends a lot of time in 20 of the 38 parables warning of the coming judgment. So I think the consistency of Jesus’ teaching opposes what many modern Churchmen think. Further there is a long long line of saints who took Jesus words quite seriously that many meant many. Arguably (with the brief rise of Originism that was condemned as a heresy) the notion of most going to heaven in less than 60 years old.

      1. Fair enough, but we ought not make many mean most if one person going to hell is too many. Jesus’ parables warning of the coming judgment do not undermine the idea of one person going to hell is to many. Many still means many if one is too many. The doctrine of restitutio in pristinum statum (apokatastasis) where all men and angles would be restored to Eternal Glory was taught by St Gregory of Nyssa (335-394) and was condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 543. The condemnation as heresy at Constantinople of all being saved does not prove or support the so called long line of saints whose opinion was most go to hell. I say so called long line because if you compare the line of saints who definitely supported the opinion most go to hell to the line of saints who were silent or against the idea of most go to hell the line of supporters is actually short.

  2. Your articles are so well-constructed. Would that even half of today’s priests put this much effort into building a coherent sermon each Sunday, we might actually begin to grow the Kingdom again.

  3. Every day in America, millions(ponder that, millions) of pre-schoolers are taught that evolution is settled science and that you will not advance to the next grade unless you accept it as fact. These same pre-schoolers are also given pretty little books full of pornographic literature teaching them the joys of masterbation and sodomy. Big bang? settled science. And how do these precious little 3, 4 and 5 year old children get to these classes? Mom drives them, in her Cadillac Escalade, the one with the ” In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned” bumper sticker. A while back an intrepid group of people went undercover to document what really goes on at planned parenthood, he ended up getting locked up, planned parenthood? got a bump in their funding and a law passed that would make any future investigations illegal. Dalieden I believe his name is, it should be Jeremiah. If you don’t learn from what has already happened in the past, it will happen again. In the devils kingdom you will not advance unless you believe his lies so too in Gods Kingdom you won’t advance until you learn to believe Him In Proverbs 24:11&12 “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those being led to slaughter. If you say “but we knew nothing of this”; does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?” I have no doubt that everything you said is the truth because God cannot lie, but I also believe that these precepts would and are working well in places like China, Africa and many other parts of the world where there is a genuine zeal for the things of God. God even told Jeremiah to quit praying for these people, is America that far gone yet? Maybe not, but they are rapidly racing towards it. Is America even aware they are the church of Laodicea? They write books on the last days, they preach sermons on the last days but they don’t even see that they are the church of the last day. I believe the biggest obstacle to revival in America is the pastor in the pulpit. But what do you do? I would rather preach the word of God to a heathen than to a country where everyone has a Bible that has never been opened. But God says we must rescue those being led away to slaughter. Oh there is a harvest being reaped alright, but the so called Christians of America are letting the devil do the reaping. I tell you America,God will not hold you blameless for allowing your children to be taught Godless lies by the devil. One of the first thing Jesus said was”Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, problem is today, most folks don’t see any need for repentance, they said the sinners prayer which, they think makes them eligible for the rapture, they all set and ready to go, but where they going is to a potato field in Siberia, or a rice paddy in China, which will be the best thing that could happen to them because God says He will raise up true shepherds for them that will teach them His true word. I must admit, I’ve mostly moved on from preaching the word to just telling people not to resist when those strange men come to move you out of your house, don’t bother buying a gun or storing up on years worth of ready to eat meals I say, just have your toothbrush handy and a good pair of boots to wear because your going on a long journey. But, everything is going to be fine, just don’t resist and God will see many of you through it, and you will actually be better for it in the end. Sorry about the rough language, you wrote another great post Monsignor. I have been to dozens of churches and listened to scores of preachers on you tube, so many disappointments and missed opportunities, the state of the church in America is in a truly tragic condition, but your posts Monsignor are always a blessing, and today maybe even more then usual in that everything every verse you gave was, is also a lesson in how we should live our lives no matter what we are doing, especially in these times, the practical principles for proclaiming the Kingdom are also the practical principles of life.

  4. Dear Msgr.

    Someday can you please give us your insight into the words of St. Paul from GAL 6:14? “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

    I know that I have never really understood this correctly. I am not sure if he is saying that he is boasting of having the stigmata GAL 6:17, “From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.” Or what do you understand by his words of “…boasting except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

    Thanks very much for all your words of wisdom and insight.


    1. There is no evidence that St. Paul had the stigmata. The context of GAL 6 is that no human glory, rank or achievement should be our boast. None of that can save us. Only the Cross of Jesus

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