Day to Day Evangelization
The term “evangelization” means to share or spread good news. For Christians, the Good News we spread is of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Evangelization has been the privilege and role of followers of Jesus, Followers of the Way, from the very beginning. In the Gospels we read that Jesus gave this directive to His followers after the Resurrection when He said, “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 …” (Mt 28:19)
From the day of Pentecost forward, empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christians have shared their beliefs with family, friends, neighbors and total strangers. Sometimes sharing the Good News takes the form of words. More often, it comes through action. One of the first things we know about early Christian community and life was the recorded observation that they were “of one heart and mind, … they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:32) They were known for their love and caring for each other.
We evangelize and in turn we are evangelized by others. Each of us had had times when a kind word or a helping hand served as a reminder that we are loved. Someone taught each of us about God and God’s love for us in sending Jesus and their Holy Spirit.
I was reminded of this the other day at Mass. A mother was there with toddler firmly in arms. She has been bringing her son with her since he was tiny. Sometimes he sleeps, but increasingly he is awake, watching all with wide eyes. When it came time to pray the Our Father, his mother raised one hand and he raised his opposite hand. Together they joined in prayer with the rest of the community. Someday he’ll learn the words of the prayer, and perhaps some theology too. But the most important learning has already begun. He is part of a community of people who love God and care for each other. A community that bears witness through their everyday lives to the love they have received.
Pope John Paul II called the Church to a New Evangelization, reaching out again to our world, bringing the good news into every aspect of our lives and communities. We begin within our daily activities, sharing our hopes and dreams and visions, reaching out in love to those we meet, answering questions about our faith when asked, and trusting the Holy Spirit to guide our words and our ways. The men and women of faith who have gone before us have brought tremendous change for the better to the world. It’s our turn now. May we have the courage and grace to be evangelists in our day to day lives.