The Incarnation of Jesus Christ has forever changed the destiny of mankind. Through His birth, death, and resurrection, the chains of death are broken, the gates of heaven are flung open wide, and eternal life has been restored to man. However, accepting the salvation Christ has won remains an individual decision to be made by each human being.
I remember well when I made that decision for myself. It all started with a woman who shared her faith in Jesus Christ with me.
Though she was going through an emotionally difficult time, she was certain God had a plan for her in the midst of it. Her trust stood in stark contrast to my own faith experience which had not recovered from my college years. Like living water flooding the landscape of my soul, her words and her witness brought me new life and led me back to Catholicism.
Each of us is called to share our faith with others, to evangelize. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines evangelization as “the proclamation of Christ and his Gospel by word and the testimony of life…” (#850). And, Vatican II states that, “…the true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life.”
My friend illustrates this perfectly. Her words, coupled with the testimony of her life, made a compelling statement about God, Jesus Christ, Christianity, and Catholicism. Like a “true apostle,” when the opportunity came for her to “announce Christ,” she made use of it by “instructing, strengthening, and encouraging” me to come back home to the Catholic Church.
Today, more than ever, this evangelization is needed. In the midst of a culture which has advanced a secular and relativistic worldview, and is embracing an anti-Christian ethos, every baptized Christian must assume his role to bring the truth of Jesus Christ to the world. And this is the mission of the lay faithful.
The work of evangelization is to imbue all of society and culture with the Gospel message. It is to infuse a Christian spirit into the customs and mores of the social milieu. It is to establish Gospel principles as the standard against which laws and ethics are weighed. It is to advance all of society’s values that are God-honoring, and to eliminate those that are not. It is to bring a Christian perspective to public affairs, to mass media, to professional duties, and to domestic life. In a word, it is to transform contemporary life.
How, then, do we effectively communicate the Catholic Faith to others? That is the topic of tomorrow’s post.
Today’s Spiritual Exercise
1. According to today’s post, how would you define a “true apostle?”
2. Who has been a “true apostle” to you? What was the circumstance or situation? How did they demonstrate apostolic zeal?
3. Recall a time when you were a “true apostle.” Who were you evangelizing? How did you go about it? What was the result?
4. Who might God be asking you to evangelize today? What is your response?
Advent and Christmas Resources:Watch and Pray: An Advent Reflection with Fr. Edmund Sylvia, C.S.C.
Copyright 2009, by Johnnette S. Benkovic. All rights reserved.