The Heart of Evangelization

As we prepare to begin our Evangelization month in October, I am struck by the words of Pope Francis in the beginning of Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel:

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.” The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.

Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.” How good it feels to come back to him when we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.

Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possibles for us to lift up our heads and start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspires more than his life which impels us onwards!”

The heart of the mission of evangelization is our own personal encounter with Jesus Christ. What compels us to share Jesus’ message of love, of hope, of forgiveness is that we have been dearly loved, that we have been given great hope, that we have been forgiven and born up by Jesus every time we ask.

Today, tomorrow, and for the days to come, we must always be fleeing back to Jesus and his redeeming embrace. He always waits with open arms. And how great and majestic the message and power of his resurrection! He has triumphed over the great enemy of death and now asks us to share in the victory. He takes what is broken, what is painful, what is tragic and breathes new life into it all.

This is the message the world is waiting for. This is our ministry of evangelization. Let us not wait any longer to give the world what it longs for.

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