Evangelization

Icon written by Shelly Pokrivka

Prison Ministry Conference – April 29, 2017

Jesus’ Command to Evangelize:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

“If I preach the Gospel, I have no reason to boast. It is my duty: woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16)

Evangelization’s content:

“Evangelization will also always contain – as the foundation, center, and at the same time, summit of its dynamism – a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.” Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi No. 27

Evangelization’s moments:

EncounterThe encounter with the Living Christ pervades all of the moments of Evangelization

  • “This fundamental Encounter remains as the ongoing source and impetus for the Church’s mission: A fresh encounter with Jesus Christ will make all the members of the Church in America aware that they are called to continue the Redeemer’s mission in their lands.”  EA 7

Conversion: In response to the proclamation of the Kerygma acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and decision to follow Him.

  • “Christ’s call to conversion finds an echo in the words of the Apostle: “It is time now to wake from sleep, because our salvation is closer than when we first became believers” (Rom 13:11). The encounter with the living Jesus impels us to conversion. EA 26

Communion: “Through communion with Christ, Head of the Mystical Body, we enter into living communion with all believers.” EA 33

  • “The parish is a privileged place where the faithful concretely experience the Church…Parishes are called to be welcoming and fraternal, places of Christian initiation, of education in and celebration of the faith, open to the full range of charisms, services and ministries, organized in a communal and responsible way, capable of utilizing existing movements of the apostolate, attentive to the cultural diversity of the people, open to pastoral projects which go beyond the individual parish, and alert to the world in which they live.” EA 41

Mission:  The responsibility of all of the entire Church

  • “Yet the lay faithful too, precisely as members of the Church, have the vocation and mission of proclaiming the Gospel: they are prepared for this work by the sacraments of Christian initiation and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit…In accepting this mission, everyone should keep in mind that the vital core of the new evangelization must be a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ, that is, the preaching of his name, his teaching, his life, his promises and the Kingdom which he has gained for us by his Paschal Mystery.” EA 66

Evangelization and the New Evangelization:

Permanent Evangelization:  “The Church always evangelizes and has never interrupted the path of evangelization. She celebrates the eucharistic mystery every day, administers the sacraments, proclaims the word of life—the Word of God, and commits herself to the causes of justice and charity. And this evangelization bears fruit: It gives light and joy, it gives the path of life to many people; many others live, often unknowingly, of the light and the warmth that radiate from this permanent evangelization.”

New Evangelization: “We can see a progressive process of de-Christianization and a loss of the essential human values, which is worrisome. A large part of today’s humanity does not find the Gospel in the permanent evangelization of the Church: That is to say, the convincing response to the question: How to live?  This is why we are searching for, along with permanent and uninterrupted and never to be interrupted evangelization, a new evangelization, capable of being heard by that world that does not find access to “classic” evangelization.”

(Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Jubilee of Catechists, 12 December 2000)

Carrying out the New Evangelization (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel 14-15)

“The new evangelization is a summons addressed to all and that it is carried out in three principal settings.

In first place, we can mention the area of ordinary pastoral ministry, which is “animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life”.  In this category we can also include those members of faithful who preserve a deep and sincere faith, expressing it in different ways, but seldom taking part in worship. Ordinary pastoral ministry seeks to help believers to grow spiritually so that they can respond to God’s love ever more fully in their lives.

A second area is that of “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism”, who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith. The Church, in her maternal concern, tries to help them experience a conversion which will restore the joy of faith to their hearts and inspire a commitment to the Gospel.

Lastly, we cannot forget that evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of them are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. All of them have a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”.

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