FR. ANDREW WRITES:-
God wants, ‘everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all (1 Tim:5-7. )Striking words from St Paul’s letter to Timothy. And a good theme to think about today, it being Home Mission Sunday. This is where we pray, support and celebrate the work of evangelization, that is, the importance of spreading the saving Gospel message to every one. Each and every person has a thirst for truth. Each baptised person is called to share their faith with others, it is not just up to the ‘Religious Professionals’, i.e., priests, sisters, teachers.
As Pope Francis says in Evangelii Gauduim, ‘In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf.Matt 28:19). All the baptised, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization’ (EG 120)
This initiative to be ‘agents of evangelization’, to which we are called to, is simply a response to being loved by God and to share that message of love with others. Pope Francis invites all Christians to, ‘a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness of letting him encounter them…each day’ (EG 3). There is a particular opportunity to experience this encounter in prayer and scripture, the sacraments and especially the Mass. And this encounter impels people to ‘Go forth’ as the priest says at the end of Mass.
‘An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4: 19) and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast.’ (EG 24) The Gospel message is for all peoples no matter what their background or class.
How should it be spread?
Initially through simple friendship, ‘In this preaching, which is always respectful and gentle, the first step is personal dialogue, when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs. Only afterwards is it possible to bring up God’s word, perhaps by reading a Bible verse or relating a story.’ (EG 128).
So friendship and dialogue and especially careful listening can lead to this next stage of sharing ones faith. Be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit! Evangelization is a challenge, but a beautiful one.