September 26, 2017

Taking the First Step: Keys to Sharing Faith Person-to-Person

by Saint Paul Street Evangelization

Evaluating Our Relationship with Christ—Growth in Self-Knowledge

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and
pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

All Catholics, whatever their circumstances in life, have been called to proclaim the Gospel (CCC 905, 1816; Evangelii Gaudium, no. 120). As a grassroots organization, St. Paul Street Evangelization has equipped thousands of Catholics for the task of evangelization. Our evangelists share the Gospel with their communities through face-to-face encounters in the public square. They are on sidewalks and street corners; they are in classrooms and workplaces; they  are at festivals, bus stations, front doors, and even prisons. Years of experience and tens of thousands of conversations have taught us that evangelization is a ministry of presence which takes place through listening, befriending, proclaiming the Gospel, and making an invitation to faith. These steps are the
beginning of a lifelong process of conversion and discipleship for many people.

Evangelization is at the heart of the mission of the Church. “As the kernel and center of His Good News, Christ proclaims salvation, this great gift of God which is liberation from everything that oppresses
man but which is above all liberation from sin and the Evil One, in the joy of knowing God and being known by Him, of seeing Him, and of being given over to Him” (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, no. 9). Evangelists are motivated by the love of God and the desire for the salvation of souls; they wish to share with others that faith in Jesus Christ is the way given to us by God that we might spend eternity in heaven with him, and avoid the pains of hell (see 2 Corinthians 5:14).

In order to become an evangelist it is necessary to first examine our own life and our walk with Christ. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis reminds us that people are attracted to the joy they see in Christians. Joy cannot be faked but radiates from a soul who is in the state of grace and prays. The evangelist has given their life to Jesus, received forgiveness of sin, and therefore exhibits the graces evident in a life lived according to the Cross of Christ. Evangelists encounter people in the messiness of their lives. Evangelization begins when we invest ourselves in others in all their brokenness, because our own brokenness has been taken up and healed by Christ. There is something different about such Christians. They have found joy in their suffering because they have put their faith in Jesus, who first suffered and died for us. The Christian does not escape suffering, but suffering is transformed and gives way to a deep and abiding peace because of the nearness of Jesus Christ. “It is impossible to persevere in a fervent evangelization unless we are convinced from personal experience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known him” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 266). We cannot introduce others to Jesus if we do not know him and if we do not live as disciples.

The Life of Discipleship— Strengthening Your Faith Through Prayer and Sacrament

The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

“Thanks solely to this encounter—or renewed encounter—with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attainthe fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 8).

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This article was originally published on www.USCCB.org, as part of Catechetical Sunday 2017.
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