Sharing the Faith
For the first disciples who encountered the Lord, their lives were never the same. This is also true for us as Jesus’ disciples today. As agents of the New Evangelization, we are called to renew and deepen our faith, grow in confidence in its truth, and share it with others in ways that are urgent, bold, joyful, and connected to the Church, the Body of Christ.
We are the witnesses to Christ, his message, his way of life, his triumph over death and his pledge of new life. What brings a new urgency to our mission is just how widespread and profound is the new secularism. Jesus asks us to be sowers of the seeds of a new way of life, but the field in recent generations has been encumbered with rocks, weeds and a soil that is hard and dry. Many Catholics do not know or understand the Church’s fundamental teachings or foundational prayers and they don’t make a priority of going to Mass or Confession. Meanwhile, many nonbelievers labor under so many unanswered questions of the heart, struggling to find any real happiness or meaning in life.
Despite these problems, there is hope. With challenges come opportunities, but more importantly, we need not do this work alone. “A new evangelization, a Church that evangelizes must always start from prayer, from asking, like the Apostles in the Upper Room, for the fire of the Holy Spirit. Only a faithful and intense relationship with God allows us to leave our enclosures and announce the Gospel with parrhesia (self-confidence),” teaches Pope Francis. “From the fire of Pentecost, from the action of the Holy Spirit, ever new missionary energies are released, new ways in which to proclaim the message of salvation, new courage to evangelize.”
Each one of us can do something positive to bear witness to Jesus and help manifest his kingdom in the world today. We begin by being active in letting people know that we love our faith, having the courage to stand up for what we believe, inviting people to pray with us and come to Mass – these are seeds of faith that we are called to scatter. The New Evangelization is not one specific action or activity, but rather a way of seeing how in the course of our daily activity we can find and take opportunities to show people how important our faith is to us.
Our task is to provide people with a new awareness and familiarity with Jesus, re-proposing Christ and his Church in a comprehensible and convincing way, in practical language and concrete situations (Redemptoris Missio, 44). It may involve talking about what is happening in the parish with co-workers over lunch. For another person, it may be sharing a favorite prayer or wisdom of a saint with a friend. We are called not just to announce, but to adapt our approach in order to inspire others to consider the uncomplicated, genuine and tangible treasure of friendship with Jesus.
Blessed John Paul II spoke of proclaiming the Gospel in ways that are “new in ardor, methods, and expression.” These new methods involve the technology and media of our Information Age, including smart phone applications, text messaging, podcasts, videos, blogs, e-letters, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and other means of establishing a presence on the Internet, such as that maintained by the Archdiocese of Washington. As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us, the ability to employ new methods of communication is required, “not just to keep up with the times, but precisely in order to enable the infinite richness of the Gospel to find forms of expression capable of reaching the minds and hearts of all” (Message for 2013 World Communications Day). Through new media, we can go out of ourselves and reach the men and women who do not participate in parish life, do not know much about it and are indifferent towards it.
Jesus gave the first disciples the Great Commission to bring his Gospel to the ends of the earth. That commission is now ours, and the opportunities to share our faith are everywhere. We can bring Christ to family members across the dinner table, to our neighbors and co-workers, and even to people on the other side of the globe.
How will you share your faith with another person this week?