I think we are often intimidated by the word evangelization. What is it? What does it mean? How do we do it? Why does it matter? When I was first introduced to the word, I immediately thought it meant shoving a Bible in someone’s face and saying “READ THIS AND LOVE IT!” However, believe it or not, that’s not what it means.
Back at my hometown parish in Virginia, I attended an Adult Faith Formation event on Pope Francis and his encyclical, Evangelii gaudium, and several of the adults in that room actually had that same understanding of the word that I originally did. I specifically remember sitting with a couple who had been a part of the parish since it was established. They confided in me that they had never really felt like a part of the community until recently and found themselves wanting to get more involved. I think this is what the evangelization is all about – people coming to a deeper place in their faith.
It’s not just about new programs, but instead, it’s about the spirit beginning to move in the community. It’s about our Hearts becoming On Fire with Christ’s love and wanting to share that with everyone we encounter. It’s about truly living a Christ-like life by loving God, loving our neighbors, and serving others not just once a week at mass but everyday and in every experience.
In his encyclical, Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that “goodness always tends to spread….[therefore] if we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good” (Evangelii gaudium, 9). I challenge those of you reading this to follow Pope Francis’ words and seek the good in others with whom you encounter in your daily lives. Let us go and spread Christ’s love to the world!
Rebecca is part of a 2 year service-learning graduate school program called Echo through the University of Notre Dame and is currently serving as an apprentice at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Naperville, IL.