Echoing the Word:Evangelization is everyone’s job!

September 4, 2012

As we prepare to celebrate the Year of Faith, which begins on Oct. 11, we are called to renew our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and recommit ourselves to the Church. At the same time, we live in a secular world which seems to have a stronghold on the ability to influence people of all ages. As Catholics living both in the Church and in society, we may want to consider that the most natural setting for evangelization to happen is precisely where so much of our daily lives are lived — at work. Since many of us typically invest half, or more than half, of our entire lives earning a living, why not focus on renewing ourselves, while evangelizing others, in the place sometimes referred to as our “second home.” Though our locations and types of employment vary greatly, every work environment is a place where Catholics can share their values and model Christian behaviors, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us to touch the lives of others. 

In living the Year of Faith, we are invited to “open the door of faith” for others. What a wonderful analogy! The phrase conjures up thoughts of countless times when we have certainly opened doors with great anticipation to welcome family and friends into our homes and hearts. We may remember times when opened doors were held by others for us, when we may have needed assistance entering the church because we were using a walker or wheelchair or pushing a stroller. Over and over again, our very own front door beckons us home, while signifying an appreciated time for prayer, rest and relaxation with loved ones. All of these images reflect a key ingredient of evangelization and that is hospitality!
We know that offering such genuine hospitality, even to loved ones, can be challenging at times. So how much more difficult can it be to extend such love and concern to those who work with us? Or, more importantly, how much more necessary is it then for us to strive to bring Jesus Christ with us into our workplace? Truly it is for our sake as much as for others. In doing so, we are blessed vessels that carry the grace and joy received through the Eucharist to others throughout the week. 

There are several things that Catholics can do to make the presence of our Lord known in the workplace. Focus some time on the following suggestions and see if you don’t lead others to grow along with you in faith (and hope and love) this year.

• Endeavor to build sincere relationships with others. In a time when digital communications are more the norm than personal interactions, this becomes even more important, for relationships are at the heart of all evangelization efforts. Offering concern and respect for others are expressions of Christian love. 

• Improving one’s attitude about work or the workplace is beneficial for everyone. It only takes a moment to remember, especially these days, that many individuals are working hard to find work. Having a job is truly a gift from God. And every job performed with an attitude of gratitude gives glory to God. 
• Working ethically and upholding justice is the responsibility of all, though it is especially important for those in positions of authority. There are many leadership styles, but first and foremost, a servant leader serves best by example. 
• If there’s joy in your heart, let your face show it! Use opportunities at work to help spread good cheer. Laughter is good for the soul and it builds community.
• Scripture tells us that there is a time for everything. This reminds us of the need to seek balance and not unnecessarily overcommit ourselves to the demands of our workload. Remember that exhaustion is not a sign of spirituality.
• Contemplate God’s presence in work relationships and situations. The word faith itself implies a level of trust and confidence that God is in control. We generally know or see only a small glimpse of all that’s involved in a given situation. Praying for acceptance and understanding allows our level of trust to increase. 
Spoken or unspoken, everything about our lives either does or does not give testimony to the faith we profess. Many of us can relate to how our offices or work areas acquire a mixture of personal items that over time tends to identify our space as ours. Among such objects in my office stands one particular photograph that captures the essence of having a living faith. It clearly depicts how being a Catholic is also who one is in the world, a blending of faith and culture. The picture is of my goddaughter shortly after returning home from celebrating her First Holy Communion. Surrounded by family throughout the day, she, along with her cousins, engaged in a simple game of backyard baseball. I refer to this photo of her, still in her white dress and veil while swinging a bat, faith in action! Even her pastor wanted a copy. May we all be that comfortable growing in our faith while at the same time connecting our beliefs and values to our everyday activities... for evangelization is truly everyone’s job! †

Charleen Katra is the Associate Director of Ministry with Persons with Disabilities and Early Childhood and Catechesis in the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.