From Our Pastor's Desk
From Our Pastor's Desk
Sunday, February 6, 2022 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C
WHAT DOES EVANGELIZATION LOOK LIKE TODAY?
There is a great deal of urgency here. Whereas in the early centuries after the resurrection, the people embraced the faith because it was completely new, most people today have already heard about Jesus and the Gospel. Some say that they have already tried Christianity, but now they are embracing a new faith – or, most likely, no faith at all. Thus it will be an even greater challenge to bring them back.
However, the goal is not just to bring people back to church; it is to help them to find LIFE in Christ Jesus. We need not get caught up in the thinking that one needs to be eloquent or perfect before one evangelizes. No, this is something for every baptized person. We have the authority, the power and the commission to do this.
Evangelization, put simply, is a means to awaken in people’s hearts a love of God and an adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What can we do to participate in Christ’s mission and continue his work of evangelization? I offer the following suggestions and guidelines. I am sure that you can think of more ideas as well.
Before going outward, remember: Evangelizers must first be evangelized. Learn as much as you can about our Catholic faith (by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sacred Scriptures, the writings of the saints, and the magisterial teachings of the Church). Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you and to deepen your relationship with God. Never cease to grow in the practice of the faith.
Pope Francis offers us practical advice as we strive to share our faith in the world: “You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world.” 8
Celebrate the Mass and the other sacraments regularly. In the sacraments, God forms us as his people, strengthens and forgives us, and empowers us to be his witnesses in the world. Pray and ask for God’s help. Then you will take seriously the invitation given at the end of every Mass: “Go, and announce the Gospel of the Lord!” Make it your number one priority to practice the faith above all with your family. Pray the rosary together, go to Mass as a family and talk about the readings and the homily afterward, celebrate the liturgical seasons together and pray before meals and bedtime with your children.
Share the joy of the Gospel. Do not be afraid to give an account of yourself to others. Tell people what it means to you to be Catholic. (No one can argue with you over this since it is your personal experience). Start simply by establishing a friendship with someone. Walk with them and listen to them. Tell them about how you know the Lord and how much joy that gives to you.
Invite people to church or Bible study, or simply ask if you can pray with and for them. (Note: while it is good to invite someone to come to Mass, this may not be the best way to evangelize someone new. They may come to Mass, but because they are not familiar with it, they might become lost and thus turned off.) We cannot simply point out the way for others; we have to accompany them on the road as Jesus walks with us all.
Live your faith well as an example to others. Let people know that you practice your faith in your parish and in your home. When you encounter people who are negative or hostile to the Church – especially, these days, in comments and articles online – point out the benefits of believing and the good things that God is doing in his Church. Preach with your actions. Serve our neighbors in need, whether they are in prison, or are homeless, victims of natural disasters or crime, or simply without basic necessities to survive. Be ready to articulate and defend the faith at work, in grocery stores, airports, schools and wherever people gather.
Questions for reflection: