Echoing the Word: Evangelizing others with joy and knowledge

June 12, 2012

Recently we celebrated the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. In the first reading on Ascension, two men dressed in white address the Apostles saying, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” On Pentecost we experience the followers of Jesus in the Upper Room as the Holy Spirit descended on them and, on fire with Christ, they left the Upper Room to valiantly and exuberantly proclaim the mighty acts of God. 

As we prepare to enter this Year of Faith and anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, we need to ask ourselves whether we are still looking up to the sky or whether we are being witnesses of our faith to the world.

In order to witness our faith, we must become familiar with its beliefs and teachings. Many of us send our children and teens to religious education classes at our parish, but are we also taking advantage of adult learning opportunities to become stronger in our relationship with Christ and His Church? Do we embrace the Scriptures and explore and pray the Bible? Do we come together each week to join our parish community in celebrating Sunday Eucharist so that we can not only deepen our personal relationship with Christ, but our communal dimension also? Are we involved in any of our parish outreach endeavors? 

Deepening of our faith cannot be done without ongoing conversion. The New Evangelization that will complement the Year of Faith asks us to go and witness. However, as Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York tells us, in his address to the College of Cardinals the day before the Consistory in February, “You can’t GO unless you’ve first COME to Him.” We have to be constantly evangelized anew. This Year of Faith challenges us, according to Cardinal Dolan, to “combat catechetical illiteracy.” For, if you profess to love someone, do you not want to learn everything you can about them in order to enter into a deeper relationship and commitment?

If we are to preach the Good News to others and to give witness by our lives showing that we believe what we preach, we must do it with joy and in a spirit of welcome. If you’re going to preach the Good News then put a smile on your face and look like it is good news! For indeed it is. God loves us and calls us to Himself. Invite a person you know to come to Mass with you. Invite them to participate in some activity of your parish. Tell them that they have been missed. Bring them with you to an adult Bible Study or other adult ed class that is offered.

In this technical and fast-paced culture, faith is a difficult concept. We want to see proof. We want it instantly. Faith is not an App. It is a quest for knowledge of our Catholic faith and belief in the Christ who lived among us, healing, preaching and challenging. It is faith in the Christ who suffered, was crucified, died, rose and ascended into heaven. It is difficult, but as Jesus told Thomas, “You have believed because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” †

Julie Blevins is the Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Continuing Christian Education.