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Father Muench Says...

Accepting the challenge to evangelize

Oct. 23, 2013

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Over and over during this Year of Faith, I hear the challenge to evangelization. 

As followers of Jesus Christ, as Catholics, in faith, as evangelizers, our task is to be ready to live the Gospel, to make the message of Jesus our way of life.  As evangelizers, we believe that the real secret to making the world a better place is by walking in the path of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis often challenges Catholics to be evangelizers.  Recently, he spoke about this when he addressed the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. 

Pope Francis urged all evangelizers to have hope – good things are going to happen – this is our hope as people of faith. The pope, however, did realize that we, Christians, often encounter an attitude of indifference towards faith, which is no longer considered relevant to human life.  Yet, with hope, Christians will not lose the enthusiasm to reach out to others – to make our Church more alive and welcoming.

Pope Francis said this, “It is important that we, Christians, demonstrate that we live faith in a concrete way, through love, harmony, joy, suffering, because this gives rise to questions, as at the  beginning of the Church’s faith: why live like this? What is the impetus of our actions? These are questions  which leads to the heart of evangelization, which is the witness of faith and charity.”

Can you such a Christian life – a life that would be so outstanding, so impressive that people would ask – “what is the impetus of your actions?” 

Pope Francis gives us some guidelines: can we be a people who live lives that truly reflect our faith and all we believe, lives that reflect Christian love, harmony, joy – and even, lives that demonstrate a willingness to suffer in our efforts to make life better for others.

This can be successfully accomplished when we have hope – a hope that is alive,  brought alive by faith – that gives confidence that good things are going to happen with God’s help, a hope that makes our Church strong and alive. 

Pope Francis says this: “The Church is sent to reawaken everywhere this Hope, especially where it is suffocated by difficult and, at times, in human conditions, where Hope cannot breath – we need the oxygen of the Gospel, the breath of the Spirit of the Risen Christ, to reignite Hope in our hearts.  The Church is the house where the doors are always open not only to welcome everyone to breath love and Hope, but also so we can take this love and Hope outside.”

Pope Francis challenges us to be a people who live our faith – a faith that is noticed – a faith that makes the world a better place. 

Pope Francis challenges each parish to become a place where everyone will find hope and confidence, a confidence to do something that will make each parish a welcoming place where people will come and find God – and live in peace.

There is one more thing to add here – that is to convince each of you that every one of us – priests and people – is an important part of this evangelization effort.

Without all of us accepting our Christian responsibility – accepting the challenge of the Lord Jesus – and the call from Our Holy Father, Pope Francis – then we will never be successful in this evangelizing effort. We will never be able to bring Jesus and the Gospel to make this world all that it should be. 

So, you are called – each and every one of you. Will you accept the Lord’s invitation?

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