Continuing our ongoing discussion of Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization
We read, on page 5:
The proclamation of the Kingdom of God and salvation for all people through Jesus Christ is at the very core of the Church’s mission and the essential aspects of evangelization.
To proclaim, I learned from our deacon when he trained me as a lector, is different than just to read or to tell. It requires a different energy, more preparation, and the Holy Spirit.
“Lectors don’t read,” he told us. “They proclaim.”
We are reminded, right at the beginning of this second part of the document, that the very core of the Church’s mission is proclamation and salvation. And I am reminded, reading it, that I have very little to do with either one of those.
I am only an instrument. I can only cooperate. As a control freak, Type A, love-to-be-organized person, this is a little more than a huge challenge.
It’s not telling: it’s living, witnessing, being. It’s almost not conscious, except it is. We have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, after all.
The bishops continue:
To evangelize, one bears witness to God’s Revelation in Jesus through the Holy Spirit by living a life imbued with Christian virtues, by proclaiming unceasingly that salvation is offered to all people through the Paschal Mystery of Christ, and by preaching hope in God’s love for us.
Evangelization, we’re told, is how we live. And our lives are imbued with conversation–so what do we say? How do we say it?
And then there’s hope. Our world needs hope. You don’t need to look any farther than the best-seller list to see that.
Hope is what Jesus offers each of us. It’s what we have to trust in at the foot of the Cross, what we see so eloquently in the Resurrection.
It’s hard to keep going, but that’s what we’re told to do. “Proclaiming unceasingly” and “preaching hope”–am I the only one who needs a refill of my coffee after reading that?
But wait–I’m looking at it wrong. *I* am not the one who has to worry about any of this, right? It’s God’s problem. He has it under control.
I just have to cooperate.
Pope Paul VI recognized that the first proclamation of the Good News is directed ad gentes [“to the world”]. However, he also recognized the need for the evangelization of the baptized who no longer practice their faith. He called upon the Church to evangelize these two groups, to invite them to a life of conversion, and to add new meaning to their life through the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
We’re given two groups: the world and those who no longer practice their faith.
This is tricky for me. As someone who’s out to change the world, I have to remember that a gentle touch, a kind word, and letting the Holy Spirit work through me is far more effective than my zealous, enthusiastic approach to evangelization.
Don’t get me wrong: we need more enthusiasm about our faith. We need more excitement for the Church.
We just need to be careful not to shove it down people’s throats like a raw lobster. Let them get a taste, give them a chance to savor it, and show them how much you cherish it.
And pray. Never underestimate the power of your prayer!
Previous posts in this series:
Copyright © 2012, Sarah Reinhard