Thursday, December 4, 2014

Evangelization 101

Second Week of Advent

This Sunday, the second reading will be from 2 Peter 3:8-14.

Somewhat paradoxically, the readings for Advent not only reflect on Christ’s coming at Christmas, but also on his coming back. I remember noticing this for the first time only a few years ago.

We know that Christ is coming back, and we have been told that it will be soon. It is still difficult to reconcile this promise of “soon” with the 2,000 years that have passed since that promise of “soon” was made.

It seems important to me to notice that the remark about delay is immediately followed by, “he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Can it be that what we cannot help but understand as a long delay is actually for OUR benefit? So that the human race might have hope of being ready to meet him when he comes again?

What then must we do?

It is God’s desire that all should come to repentance. We also know that God “wills everyone to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth.”( 2 Tim 2:4) How can they come to knowledge of the truth, and therefore to repentance, if WE do not bring the truth to them? We are called to be witnesses to the truth, and this can seem like a difficult thing to do.

We, as Catholics, are seldom given instruction in how to evangelize in the same way that is common among our Protestant brothers and sisters, and it is easy to feel daunted in the face of it. We don’t feel qualified – we are used to leaving the “evangelizing” to those who are. We are used to leaving the evangelizing – like the preaching – to those with “training,” and this is simply not what we are called to do.

It is not nearly so difficult as we want to believe that it is. The first (and most important) step is to remember that evangelization (spreading the good news) and apologetics (explaining and defending the faith) are different.

A good evangelist need not have any special training – only joy in the faith.  The first (and best) way to spread the Gospel is by living it joyfully and taking opportunities to talk about the good that the Lord has done for you when they arise.  Be aware of the things God has done for you, and be ready to talk about them. Love the Lord first – really love him – and evangelization will be glibly in your mouth.

What? Seems too easy? Hm. Imagine that.

Let’s pray this week for the grace to be aware of all that God has done for us, and to give us an opportunity and the courage to reach out to someone who might not know the Lord, or who has forgotten him.  Let us ask him to give us the word and manner that would best minister to that person and allow them to see what it is that they are missing.

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