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 | Father Charles Irvin

What does it mean to evangelize?

Evangelization is a big word – what does it mean? The mission of the church is to bring Christ to us as well as to bring us to Jesus Christ  – God’s word, God’s self-expression made flesh  – made incarnate of the Virgin Mary. To be sure, that central mission is realized in many ways, but the main mission of the church is to bring us into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our brother and our savior. In him, we encounter God coming to us in a human way as a person who is one of us. Christ comes in our humanity to join us into himself and bring us back home to our Father in heaven. That’s really good news!

Evangelization proclaims this in preaching and teaching, in the church’s sacraments and in our actions that care for others. Evangelization isn’t confined to presenting us with sound teachings and authentic doctrines. It is certainly that ... but it’s more. It isn’t confined to bringing ourselves and others with us to Mass. It certainly is that – and more. It isn’t just teaching catechism lessons to children and adults. It is certainly that – and more. It isn’t simply an intellectual grasping of the truths of religion. It is certainly that, but a whole lot more.

The “more” part of evangelization is summed up in making Christ, God’s only-begotten son, personal – personal in our own lives as well as bringing others to a point where they can experience Jesus Christ personally in their own lives.

Sometimes we over-emphasize our dogmas, doctrines and teachings. Sometimes we can spend excessive energy on making sure our teachings are taught authentically. Certainly all of that is necessary. But of greater importance is bringing others to experience the good news we proclaim, to experience God’s Christ, God’s anointed one, as we have experienced him in our church, in his sacraments and personally in our own lives.

Many people hear a lot of bad news, bad news about our world, about other human beings and bad news about themselves. But what about the good news? What about the good news that God our Father sent his only Son out of love into our world, into our humanity, not to condemn us but to rescue us from all that would diminish and destroy us. St. John sums it up in the third chapter of his Gospel when he declares:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).

So in the midst of all of the bad news about our world and the things we humans have been doing, be an evangelizer, be someone who lets others know what Jesus Christ has been doing in your life and in the lives of others. Let folks know of the good news that’s here among us. That’s what FAITH magazine is all about. Hopefully, as one of its readers, you will join us in being an evangelizer.