Sharing The Word of God
Evangelization happens when the word of Jesus speaks to people’s hearts and minds. Needing no trickery or manipulation, evangelization can happen only when people accept the Gospel freely, as the “good news” it is meant to be, because of the power of the gospel message and the accompanying grace of God.
The fruits of evangelization are changed lives and a changed world—holiness and justice, spirituality and peace. The validity of our having accepted the Gospel does not only come from what we feel or what we know; it comes also from the way we serve others, especially the poorest, the most marginal, the most hurting, the most defenseless, and the least loved. An evangelization that stays inside ourselves is not an evangelization into the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Conversion is the change of our lives that comes about through the power of the Holy Spirit. All who accept the Gospel undergo change as we continually put on the mind of Christ by rejecting sin and becoming more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Unless we undergo conversion, we have not truly accepted the Gospel.
“We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of our ministry. It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present-day society make all the more urgent.
The People of God, is not only commissioned to be a proclaimer of the Word, introducing the world to Christ and Christ to the world; it is also to be first a hearer of the Word. To be an effective evangelizer one needs first to be evangelized. There are a number of places in the Scriptures where we could go to look for an answer to this question. We could look at the conversion of Zacchaeus as an evangelizing event in his life (Luke 19:1-10). We could look at the proclamation of Thomas, “My Lord and my God”, as he encountered the Risen Lord after having previously proclaimed his skepticism (John 20:28). We could consider the conversion of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). A reflection on any of these would be fitting and suitable, for each event concerns individuals who already know all about Jesus, what He claimed to be, what He did, and, except for Zacchaeus, that there were reports that He had risen from the dead. Yet, in each case, something blocked the movement of grace until the Lord was personally encountered. It is this “personal encounter” with the living Lord which constitutes the core of what it means to be “evangelized”. For Zacchaeus, Thomas, and Paul the moment of encounter was life-changing. After that encounter nothing was ever the same for any of them again. Once they had experienced this personal encounter with Jesus, they were ready, indeed eager, to learn more about Jesus and His teaching. They were eager for catechesis. They were eager to evangelize others. They were even eager to give their lives for the sake of the Gospel.
A similar experience is that of the disciples who left or perhaps fled from Jerusalem after the death of Jesus. They were on their way to Emmaus. Jesus joined them and they had a lengthy discussion about the things that had occurred in Jerusalem. Here too, they received data and a kind of catechesis but for them it was largely “information”. The transforming event occurred for them when Jesus blessed and broke bread for them and “their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, but He vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:13-35).