December 26, 2014
A term that’s thrown around with gusto these days among Catholics is the “new evangelization.” In case you’re in the camp that’s a bit confused by what this means and how it impacts you (I assure you I’m right there with you), I’ll be taking the next couple of articles to broach the subject in hopes of providing a bit more clarity.
Let’s start with the word “evangelization.” You’ve probably heard before that the word “Gospel” means “good news.” It specifically refers to the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became man and died for our sins so mankind would no longer be separated from Our Heavenly Father. This separation came about by Adam and Eve breaking the covenant with God by their choice to disobey His one law and involves every sin committed by man since then.
Each of us has the choice of whether we want to become a part of God’s family and live as His beloved child or to persist in this separation. “Evangelization” is simply sharing with others the message of God’s love revealed through Jesus Christ.
Haven’t people been sharing the Gospel since the time of Jesus? So what’s “new” about the new evangelization?
The heart of the Church’s mission is evangelization. Blessed Paul VI called this to mind when he stated in his encyclical Evangelii Nuntiando, “Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize…”
When we think about the missionary work of the Church, we tend to confine it to the foreign missions and the need to go to people who have never heard of the Lord —going to the tribes in the Amazon to tell them about Jesus Christ, for instance. But, this is not the full scope. Missionary work needs to be done right here in the Bismarck Diocese! Each person is continually called by God to fall deeper in love with Him entailing an ongoing conversion.
In our Western culture, there is a familiarity with the story of Jesus, but the message of the Gospel has not permeated and encompassed the way people live. Many have not encountered the living person of Jesus Christ— that friendship with God is possible and real. The new evangelization is about engaging this audience. How many of you have family members or friends who left the Catholic faith? Or, who don’t believe God exists?
Contrary to what some may think about the hype surrounding the new evangelization, it’s not a new program that is to be implemented in a series of easy steps or a passing trend within the Church that will be “uncool” in five years. It’s about allowing Christ to transform our lives each day and inviting others to meet Him too.
And the exciting news is each of us has a part to play in it! Our Heavenly Father is choosing to work with and through us to accomplish His divine plan. Each person is necessary. That means you and me! And it’ll be the most exciting adventure of your life! Are you game?