Sunday, January 1, 2017

Vatican II - We All Are Called To Be Evangelists

Evangelization takes love and courage.  It takes the work of all of us, Jesus’ many disciples to evangelize.  As Jesus told his first disciples to “Go and make disciples”, who went and did, and so we are here today, by virtue of our baptism, chosen and called to do the same.   However, for many people the idea of evangelizing seems frightening.  Some feel they are ill-equipped.  

Some would say, “Evangelize?  How am I supposed to do that?”  Please be assured discipleship is for everyone.  The first disciples were chosen from all walks of life.  We have been chosen by God too and every one of us can evangelize. We are loved, we are chosen and we are equipped.  We just need to try, to start somewhere, do something. 

First, reflect in your heart and remember God loves you; feel this deeply.  With prayer and contemplation remember always the love you are able to share and your faith comes from this immense and constant source of love.  Consider this question from Pope Francis, “For if we have received this love, how can we fail to share it with others?”

Sharing faith and God’s love is simple when starting with those nearest to us; those we love.  Our vocational choices call us to a life in relationship with others.  An opportunity to share our faith with the adults who we know closely and to apprentice children, particularly if they are our own, as Mary and Joseph modeled with Jesus.  Mary taught Jesus about the faith and Joseph taught him the trade.  Together, they loved him into faith and sent him forth into the world to do God’s work.  The work of evangelization is the same today.  It is about sharing our love and faith joyfully, making disciples right where we are in our homes. 

Once we practice and model evangelization in our homes it is easy to go out and do the same.  We are equipped for evangelization by belonging, believing and practicing in a faith community, keeping our faith within the church alive so that in strength we can together “Go and make disciples” within our wider community and throughout the world. 

Many people know nothing about Jesus Christ right in our own communities.  Look around.  Evangelizing with them is first about building a trusting relationship, then answering their questions while joyfully sharing your love of God and your reasons for hope in Jesus Christ.  Please have courage.  God has given you all you need. 

Everyone can evangelize if we remember God’s love within us, the Holy Spirit alive among us and Jesus’ promise, “I am with you always.”

Over the next year, through this publication, we will be looking at the contributions made since Vatican II from Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.  Through what they offered in their writings on evangelization, together we hopefully will learn what the church is calling us to and put it into action.

This article was co-authored by Bishop Richard Lennon and Terrie Baldwin.  It appeared in the January/February, 2017 issue of Northeast Ohio Catholic Magazine published by the Diocese of Cleveland in Cleveland Ohio.

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