Christ the King: Evangelization, you can do it!
When we say Jesus Christ is the King, we mean he reigns in our heart. The sense you can have of Jesus reigning in your heart is a beautiful experience. It frees you to be the person God created you to be, living and breathing the truth of the gospel, a true son or daughter of God. When you have such a beautiful experience, it is an experience you want to share with others. The experience is a gift we can share. Our Bishop, Bill Wack, wrote all of you a letter this month about sharing the gift. We gave you hard copies and emailed you copies as well. You can still download Bishop’s letter, Sharing the Gift, from our diocesan website.
Sharing the gift of Jesus is what we often call evangelization. Evangelization has something to do with why the church exists in the first place.
The church exists to evangelize! The last five popes have told us that. Our Bishop is also very clear about this. He uses those same words in the first paragraph of the letter he wrote to you. If the church exists to evangelize, and we are the church, that means all of us have a role in evangelization.
What exactly is Evangelization? Bishop Wack writes: “Evangelization, put simply, is a means to awaken in people’s hearts a love of God and an adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Section VII) Let’s not over complicate it. Evangelization means to awaken, in people’s hearts, a love of God and an adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Bishop clearly states (all from page 6 of the Pastoral Letter) “[Evangelization] is not something we do in our spare time, something that is extra to our Catholic faith or even optional; it is the heart of everything we do. . .”
“It is clear that today we are bogged down by so many important issues and concerns. There is a great deal of anger, division, anxiety and hopelessness in our world. In times like these, we are tempted to retreat and “circle the wagons.” Some [people] would have us focus only internally, guarding and defending our Catholic faith against the forces of the world. Others want to use the faith solely to resolve key issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, capital punishment, immigration and so many others.”
“Before and above anything else, however, our Catholic faith unites us with Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, and thus leads us to the Father and the kingdom of heaven. We remember Jesus’ words in the Gospel: “I have come so that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) We have received this incredible gift, [this incredible, joyful good news], and all God asks of us is that we extend it to others.”
We are to share the gift we have been given. Why? Because the gift is given to us to share, not to keep for ourselves.
Here are some examples, in our parish, of how you can share the gift God has given you to share.
(Below is from page 11 of Bishop’s pastoral letter study guide🙂
- We need leaders. Many of you have stepped forward to lead our Advent Small Groups. Thank you! Thank you for helping to share the gift of Jesus this Advent. We will be asking again for leaders in early 2022. If you signed up to be in an Advent Small group, we will be notifying you soon about what group you are in.
- The front porch principle: Start with what is sometimes called “the front porch principle.” When planning to evangelize as a parish all efforts must start on the “front porch” of people’s lives rather than their “living rooms.” Before wading into specific beliefs and moral behaviors, we have to build relationships. That starts with building trust. Once trust and friendship is established, the Gospel can be shared. Trust is essential and is the foundation for investing in any relationship. Invest in people by building trust and have simple conversations with them.
- Onboarding: Help people feel comfortable with great hospitality, and help them find their place. Churches sometimes call this onboarding. Especially for people who have been away, we want to create opportunities for them to be comfortable, ask questions, and become part of a community which really cares about them. We are all hospitality ministers. Be welcoming. We walk with people on their faith journey, and when they are ready we bring them back into Catholicism or into Catholicism for the first time. It is not a slow painful process. Just come!
- Invest: Let’s talk a bit more about investing in relationships. We should adopt a mindset that evangelization is something which happens outside of the parish where people spend most of their time. Sports fields, work, the kitchen table, school these are places where conversations naturally spring up and we can share our stories which are touched by Christ. Practice. Remember what you learned in our 3 Conversation groups and put that into practice.
- Practice. Practice. Practice! A wise saying goes that “you can’t be a surgeon in a living room!” Many Catholics have never intentionally evangelized anyone. Our Advent Small Groups are a great place to practice. It is not too late to sign up for our Advent Small Groups.
Those are all things we have going on in our parish to help you learn how to evangelize by actually doing it. We will continue to roll out more of these types of opportunities to learn and practice.
(Below is from page 14 of Bishop’s pastoral letter study guide🙂
In section VII (pages 12 and 13) of bishop’s letter, Sharing the Gift, he offers a number of excellent suggestions for making your faith more prominent in your day to day life. Still, for many people it is intimidating to think about how exactly we can proclaim the Gospel to family members, neighbors and co-workers.
We offer this simple advice: Just try something! Push yourself outside your comfort zone and try something new! The Lord will be so pleased with any attempt you make to bring others into a deeper relationship with him, however successful or unsuccessful that attempt turns out.
Here are a few ideas on what you can do as an individual.
- Invest in people, and invite people. Invite them into a small group this week. I encourage you to assemble your own small group. You — can — do — it. Just ask two or three people to join you. Remember Jesus said wherever two or three are gathered, I am with them. Gather a few people in your home for our Advent Small group experience. And sign them up. This is the last weekend you can sign up, so please sign up as soon as possible.
- Practice hospitality. Invite people to your home to share a meal. That is a beautiful way to initially invest in people. Invest in them because you care and you love.
- Learn to articulate your faith journey. How would you tell the story of your journey? Remember, we are not trying to convert people to Catholicism; we are trying to lead them into a relationship with God. Our Advent small groups are a great way to do this. If people have a great experience there, many will want to know more and join the Church.
- Be a joyful minister in our parish by helping in ministries like hospitality, youth ministry, RCIA, or small groups. In this way you truly lead others to Christ.
- Pray with, and for, people. Ask: “How can I pray for you?” Then pray with them, right then and there.
- Challenge other people in our parish to evangelize. Share all the information we have discussed today. There is a lot to this homily today. You can find it on our website, saintmary.life. Share this homily with others and talk with them about it.
The church exists to evangelize. You are the church. Don’t just go to church, be the church!
Evangelization. . . you can do it! You — can — do — it!
This is what we would like for you to do this week.
Review this homily and choose two things you are going to do to evangelize. Don’t make it complicated. Just begin. Pick somewhere to start, and begin.