Commanded to be Witnesses

I’ve been working my way, slowly, through Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization, a new document by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

From the preface:

Christ commands us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. We are to proclaim his Good News to all people, everywhere and at all times. After Christ promises the disciples that the Holy Spirit will come upon them, he ascends into heaven. The disciples, rather than heeding Christ’s command to be his wit- nesses, stare “intently at the sky.” It takes “two men dressed in white garments” asking, “Men of Galilee, why are you . . . looking at the sky?” for the disciples to begin to realize the meaning of Christ’s command (Acts 1:10-11).

There’s strong language here. We’re commanded to proclaim.

Doesn’t look like there’s much room for taking a summer break, does it? How are we supposed to juggle it all?

Or am I the only one who reads this and thinks, “Great. One more thing to do!”?

As I reread this, though, I think it’s a call to each of us. We’re so embroiled in our lives, so buried in our work, so smothered by our obligations, that sometimes we forget just what it is we’re commanded by Christ to do.

We’ve been baptized and confirmed and we receive the Eucharist. We’re set. God has us covered.

The worry I so often have, in the face of a call to action, is to view it through the lens of “how can I fit one more thing on my plate?” instead of “how is God going to make room in my life?”

We’re not to stand and look up, trying to find just where Jesus went. We’re not to gripe about not being important enough, but to seek to glorify our smallness through God’s work.

How often do we fail to realize that we are called to be Christ’s witnesses to the world? Do we realize that our Baptism, Confirmation, and reception of the Eucharist bestow on us the grace we need to be disciples? Are we like the disciples staring at the sky rather than inviting those around us to experience Christ’s love and mercy through the Church? How often do we reach out to our missing brothers and sisters by inviting them to join us at Mass or by asking why they no longer feel welcomed at the Lord’s Table? The answers to these questions underlie the evangelizing mission of the Church, especially in the call of the New Evangelization.

The New Evangelization seeks to invite modern man and culture into a relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church. The New Evangelization strives to engage our culture and to help us draw our inspiration from the Gospel. The New Evangelization calls all Catholics first to be evangelized and then in turn to evangelize. While it is directed to all people, the New Evangelization focuses specifically on those Christian communities that have Catholic roots but have “lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church.”

We forget about the work we’re called to do, right in the midst of our ordinary lives. We’re invited–not forced, not persuaded–to be in a relationship.

Will we share that relationship with everyone around us? Will we allow it to change us, and by changing us, change the world?
Copyright © 2012, Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to be shocked and delighted that her life as a grown-up involve horses, writing, and sparkly dress shoes. In her work in the New Evangelization as a Catholic wife, mom, writer, parish employee, and catechist, she’s learned a lot of lessons, had a lot of laughs, and consumed mass amounts of coffee. She’s online at and, and is the author of a number of books.

7 responses to “Commanded to be Witnesses”

Leave a Reply

next post: Called to Him

previous post: An Unlikely Disciple