This Sunday’s liturgy is about Evangelization. Pope Paul VI described “Evangelization” in the following manner:
For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new …But there is no new humanity if there are not first of all new persons renewed by Baptism and by lives lived according to the Gospel. The purpose of evangelization is therefore precisely this interior change, and if it had to be expressed in one sentence the best way of stating it would be to say that the Church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs.
“To convert…” Paul VI was not referring to proselytism, of course, but to lives led that become occassions for a dialogue of the faith and culture which in turn causes peoplle to change minds and hearts. He explains..
it is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation.
All this could he expressed in the following words: what matters is to evangelize man’s culture and cultures — not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots –, in the wide and rich sense which these terms have in Gaudium et Spes, always taking the person as one’s starting-point and always coming back to the relationships of people among themselves and with God.
Christians therefore are points of meeting between the Gospel of Christ and the world that awaits and searches for it! This is something that is worth considering in meditation. If the world seeks the Gospel, it can never find it unless it meets a Christian. It is for this reason that the Lord sends the Church in the way that He has been sent by the Father.
So in tomorrow’s liturgy, we are provided with a rich fare of texts from the Scriptures to help us enrich our understanding for the reasons we are sent forth. The first reading from the prophet Amos underlines the link between the evangelizer and his sense of a vocation. Amos was called “prophet” by Amaziah to which he responds “I am not a prophet, nor a son of a prophet. I am a cattle herder and one who tends trees. But God called me away from these and commanded me to prophesy.” Amos has been called and sent forth.
In the second reading, Paul in his letter to the Ephesians shows us the content of evangelization. The opening section of his letter — a berakah — announces the blessings that the Father has showered on us: the vocation to be holy, predestined to be his children through Christ, graced in Christ through the redemption, the forgiveness of sins, the knowledge of the mystery and the privilege to be Christian Jews and Gentiles, sealed in the Holy Spirit. Evangelization is not telling other people what they do not know. Evangelization is sharing with others — especially those who want it — what gives one joy, hope, and courage in a world where living itself has become a burden to some.
Finally, in the Gospel reading from Mark we are reminded of the way the Lord sent the Twelve. These are the men who had been with him first. He called them to be fishers of men then chose them once to stay with him. And when he thought it the time was ripe, he sent them forth. Come –> Stay –> Go. These are the verbs of discipleship and “Go” is the command to evangelize.
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