What’s new in evangelization?
BY DR. JEFF ANDRINI, OFFICE OF EVANGELIZATION AND DISCIPLESHIP
When you hear the word “evangelization” what word or image comes to mind? Pause for a moment and consider the feelings this word conjures up. For some it means sharing God’s love with others or welcoming people in Jesus name. These positive reactions show we have made some progress in the last 60 years. For others, the image may be of a TV evangelist or someone on your front porch inviting you to their church, and the feelings are rather negative.
In the documents of Vatican II 1962-65, the word “gospel” appears 157 times, “evangelize” 18 times and “evangelization” 31 times. These words focus on the core mission of the Church, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
Pope Paul VI described the mission this way in 1975: “the church exists to evangelize… that is to proclaim Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit so that people in our times will open their hearts to him…”
In 1983, St. Pope John Paul II said, “This New Evangelization is new, not in the content of the message of the Gospel, but in its ardor, methods, and expression.” The U.S. Catholic Bishops put it this way, “The New Evangelization is a call for all of us to have a deeper encounter with Christ, best expressed in a simple, confident, informed, and joyous witness to the faith, which attracts others and invites them to wonder what secret is motivating the Christian disciple” (Living as Missionary Disciples, 7).
So what is new? It is new that the mission is for every baptized member of the Church. It is the responsibility of each member to open their hearts to Jesus and to be transformed into a person who is a joyful witness to the faith. The witness of each member of the Church and the realization that it is not just for our priests and lay ecclesial ministers, but it is something all of us need to be engaged in, and in fact, this very thing gives ultimate meaning and purpose to our lives.
The mission of the Church is to be a place of God’s loving presence and this is up to every one of us in our homes, workplaces and even our parishes. It is much more about how we live and how we treat others that will help us to be a Church of “attraction” that Pope Francis is calling us to be.
Our new mission is: “To be missionary disciples of Jesus, making present the kingdom of God.”
As we begin our Lenten Journey, I invite you to discover God’s intimate and unconditional love by carving out 15 minutes each day to try some new forms of prayer. Go to this link: https://owensborodiocese.org/evangelization/ and click on the top item in the left column, “Lenten Prayer Challenge.”
May God fill you full this Lent and send you on mission!
Peace in Christ,
Dr. Jeff Andrini is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship. Please send comments to [email protected].
Originally printed in the March 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.