Pope Benedict XVI has announced a “Year of Faith” beginning October 11, 2012, and dioceses around the world are preparing for a “New Evangelization.” What’s “new” about a concept which has always been the core mission of the Church? We are receiving a "wake up” call, reminding us of the urgent need to reach out and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Good stewards are evangelizers and understand the need to share their faith with others. In their pastoral letter on stewardship, the United States bishops wrote:Every member of the Church is called to evangelize, and the practice of authentic Christian stewardship inevitably leads to evangelization. As stewards of the mysteries of God (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1), people desire to tell others about them and about the light they shed on human life, to share the graces and gifts they have received from God, especially knowledge of Christ Jesus.Every member of the Church is called to evangelize. But how do Catholics answer that call?First, as Catholic Christians we need to be mindful of the renewal of our own Baptismal promises at Easter and educate ourselves in our faith. Good stewards understand the need for ongoing formation and catechesis in their ever-deepening relationship with Christ.Secondly, we must never forget the witness value of our own lives. Through our everyday actions, lived in Christ, we give the world the clearest sign of God’s presence among us and within the Church.Third, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we must proclaim the Good News in words. In his 1975 pastoral letter, On Evangelization in the Modern World (Evangelii Nuntiandi), Pope Paul VI stressed the importance of not only living in Christ, but SPEAKING about our life in Christ with others. We must have the courage to invite others to join us in our relationship with Christ. This includes other Catholics, and those who no longer practice their Catholic faith.Fourth, we must be willing to dialogue in a spirit of love and respect. We must listen with tolerance to others’ disbelief, doubts, pain and suffering. Our sharing of the Gospel should not be demanding or coercive. The sole desire of authentic evangelizers is to bestow freely with patience and love what they themselves have freely received.Just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus gave this mandate: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Evangelization is not an option. It is part of our Baptismal commitment and it goes to the very heart of our faith. Exercising good stewardship of the Gospel implies the willingness to share it with others.
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