Jesus gave all of us the mission to “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” (Matt. 28:19-20).
Evangelization is not the responsibility of only priests and religious nor is it something only Protestants do. By virtue of our baptism and as members of the Body of Christ, we share in the Church’s mission to evangelize.
In today’s world, it is more important than ever to heed the words of St. John Paul II in Christifideles Laici. He discusses the growing secularization and de-Christianization of our culture, the loss of human dignity, and the increasing violence in the world. Through the lay faithful “the Church of Christ is made present in the various sectors of the world, as a sign and source of hope and of love” (CL 7).
Don’t have time?
Jesus calls each of us to labor in his vineyard (Mt 20:1-16) and to bring others to him through how we live. We do not need to be missionaries in a foreign land. As lay people, we should not separate our union with Christ from our daily life nor live as Catholics on Sundays only. We can evangelize our coworkers, friends, the people we meet throughout the day, and even within our own families.
Don’t know how?
Are you afraid that you don’t know what to say or how to evangelize? We do not need to be priests, nuns, or specially trained catechists. The greatest way we can evangelize is by living authentically Christian lives in the world, admittedly an increasingly difficult task.
Yet, we take comfort in the Holy Spirit, who works through the sacraments and gifts bestowed on each of us so that we can be fruitful laborers in the vineyard of the world. And we grow in our own relationship with Christ through our active participation in the liturgy, which gives us the strength to live as Christians in our everyday lives.
As evangelizers, we not only fulfill Christ’s commission to go make disciples, but we also grow in the virtues of faith, hope, and love. We ourselves become the hands and feet of Jesus, humbling ourselves to the will of the Lord. And we strengthen our relationship with Jesus and with our neighbor through love.
Be on fire for the Lord! If you really believe Jesus when he says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), then you will want to share this with others. There is no other guaranteed way to Heaven than through Jesus Christ.
We need to be like the Apostles on that first Pentecost. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they went out into the streets and proclaimed the Good News to the Jews gathered in Jerusalem from all over (Acts 2:1-13). We too are called to go out into the world rather than hide in our rooms. Like the Apostles, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, who will use us to proclaim the Good News as long as we are open to God’s love and to sharing that love with those around us.
This year, the beginning of Lent falls on February 14. Rather than celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with flowers, candy, and a big meal (we’ll be fasting anyway!), love your neighbor by sharing God’s love. Say to the Lord, “Here am I! Send me” (Isa. 6:8). Take that first step, and become the evangelizer God wants you to be!