In “Go and Make Disciples” (1992), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) write:
“Evangelization happens when the word of Jesus speaks to people’s hearts and minds.”
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment. ~Mark 12:30
I believe these two statements work hand-in-hand when one considers their relevance to evangelization.
Many Catholics who embark on a journey of evangelization at times are overcome by the sheer enormity of the task. Given our busy lifestyles and our ‘micro-byte’ opportunities to professes the word of God, coupled with competing distractions, it is no wonder why evangelization can seem so overwhelming.
Using Mark 12:30 as our guide, we can start breaking down the task of evangelization into smaller bite-sized portions. Mark, in quoting Jesus, is letting us know that in order for one to experience the true love of God one must love God with heart, soul, mind and strength. These four elements must work together to form a whole – a ONE.
As evangelizers, we must meditate on this. Looking inwardly, we need to come to grips with what this means to us. How it ‘feels’, how we think GOD through, how we make connections between words and actions, and more importantly WHY.
By self-reflection and drawing out these elements, through prayer and meditation, we must recreate this ‘image’ and plant this image into those we are evangelizing.
As evangelizers, we need to make a connection between heart and mind. The logical, the reasoned, and the spiritual. This does not happen overnight.
As evangelizers, we need to plant small seeds of ‘light’ that go beyond words. We need to use logic and reason to guide to the spiritual. This requires several things.
We must have at least a fundamental understanding of the Catholic faith. This must be coupled with an understanding of how one can take Catholic teaching and apply it to meaningful real-life situations.
Putting it into Action
The greatest tool in an evangelizers arsenal is ‘walking -the-talk’. Are we examples of our evangelizing? Do we practice what we preach? Do we in fact lead Christian lives?
One time I was dining in a restaurant. When my meal was served, I bowed my head, made the sign of the cross, and quietly said grace. As I was finishing my meal, directly across from me, a couple with two young children were on their way out. As they passed by my table they both stopped and said, ‘That was beautiful’ and thanked me.
I am sure that if they took the time to stop and thank me, they will take the time to think about what they observed. I planted a seed with that couple. By acting on my faith I demonstrated that there is no shame in living your faith in public. By personally demonstrating with meaning and faith, I appealed to both their cognitive being and their guarded spiritual being.
In a similar vein, I was once on a telephone conversation with a colleague of mine who was going through a terrible life experience and was getting quite desperate. After listening patiently, I let her know that I am a Christian and that I believe in the power of prayer. I asked her if she would like me to pray for her and with her. She said that though she was a Christian, she was not a practicing Christian. No one had ever offered to pray for her or with her. We proceeded to pray together.
She later recounted to me that she had never really known how to pray and that in her time of need it was the most calming experience she had ever had. More importantly, she had no idea that I was a practicing Christian and was surprised that I was. All of the Christian professionals she has known were not practicing Christians. Again, I planted a seed.
I hope those seeds I planted grow into fruit bearing plants and my hope is that others may be blessed and eat from their wholesome fruit.
Copyright © 2013, Luciano Corbo