Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent. (Acts 18:9)For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring (the) good news!” (Romans 10:13-15))
When we think of the call to evangelization, we might conjure up images of street preachers and television evangelists shouting about the “wages of sin.” Or maybe we think of saints or missionaries or gifted Catholic priests. But true evangelization-whatever form it takes-is born from a love for people and a desire that everyone on earth come to know the love of Christ and the blessings of living in his kingdom. As St. Paul once told the Corinthians: “The love of Christ impels us” to proclaim Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14).
Just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus told the apostles: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Beginning on Pentecost, the apostles did just that, and the work of evangelization continues to this day. It is a calling that has not changed over the years, as Pope Paul VI affirmed in his letter On Evangelization in the Modern World: “We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church” (14). Evangelization is not an optional add-on. It is at the very heart of what it means to be followers of the Lord.
We might respond by quoting the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary.” But this doesn’t mean that we can choose between proclaiming and living the gospel, as if they both accomplish the same thing. Paul VI explained the interplay between word and witness this way: “The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed” (22).
Each of us as Catholic men has been called to be part of this “essential mission” of the Church; each of us has been called to be part of the glorious band of witnesses for Jesus Christ. Through us, Jesus can bring his kingdom to hurting and lost people all over the world. The power of sin can be pushed back as more and more people experience his salvation. In homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods everywhere, Jesus can open hearts-through us!
If you find yourself hesitant when it comes to talking about Jesus, the solution is simple: Pray for boldness, and take a step in faith. God will honor your efforts. He will breathe his life into your words, so that his gospel can continue to spread. So don’t be afraid to share God’s love. Jesus Christ, the ascended Lord, has given you the very same power that governed his life. And he gave it to you so that you could give it to everyone else.
“Lord Jesus, increase my love and compassion for my brothers and sisters so that I will not be afraid to share your good news. Lord, give me the confidence to tell people about you. I want to see you exalted today as I proclaim your gospel with my lips and with my actions. Jesus, it is an honor to be your witness.”
Maurice Blumberg is Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men Center.
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- 1. Do you have a positive or negative reaction to “street preachers and television evangelists”? Why?
- 2. What is your understanding/reaction to the quotes of Pope Paul VI from: “On Evangelization in the Modern World”?
- 3. The article states that “Each of us as Catholic men has been called to be part of this ‘essential mission’ of the Church; each of us has been called to be part of the glorious band of witnesses for Jesus Christ”? How would you rate yourself on your response to this call?
- 4. Evangelization does not come naturally for most Catholic men? What are some of the obstacles that make it difficult for you to evangelize others? What steps can you take to overcome some of them?
- 5. Think of two men to pray for who need to hear the message of God’s saving love through Jesus Christ. If you are in a men’s group, at the end of your meeting (and future meetings) pray for these men that God would prepare their hearts to receive the Gospel. Pray also for one another for boldness and wisdom on how to evangelize these men.
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