Tuesday, January 21, 2014
One of our parishioners at the church of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brockport is a woman named Piera: willowy, an eye-catching dresser with a big smile, totally devoted to the Lord and her parish. Piera is working through a protocol of chemotherapy to get at the cancer that moved in without her notice. On a recent visit, as we sat in her living room, Piera’s thoughts and questions turned to…evangelization. I could hardly believe it! We could have gone anywhere in our conversation(faith, sickness, personal growth), but she had become absorbed in Pope Francis’ call for all of us to be evangelizers. What did that mean – to evangelize? And could she do it even now?
Evangelization probably doesn’t grip our minds in the same way, because it’s an unknown. Or if we know it at all, we push it off to the church professionals.
But evangelization means simply “Pass it on.” Pass on what we have “ come to believe”, as Peter in the Gospel of John (Chapter 6) puts it. That’s something you and I already do. Matthew Kelly, in his book, The Dynamic Catholic, says that every time we pass on to another person a book or article about some aspect of faith, we are doing evangelization. When we point someone in the direction of a Faith-filled website, or talk with someone about God’s Presence, recognized in a given moment, we do evangelization. Perhaps we will go beyond these small steps, but they are impotent steps with which to begin, and often, the people who need to hear and experience our words are none other than other Catholics who have lost interest or connection. By virtue of our baptism, we are called upon to evangelize.
The word ”ministry” also comes to mind, as we talk about what we are called to by virtue of our baptism. Here’s what a young theology student and writer named Jamie Manson has to say about ministry:
“Whenever in our work we honor the dignity of a human person with deep presence, we’re doing ministry. Any kind of work can be ministry in that way. What makes ministry particularly Catholic is when we do our work with a sacramental view of the world. In other words, we do it with an understanding that God can break through in any place, in all of creation…”
God breaks through- through us- as we offer our friend, neighbor, co-worker a fresh, unexpected glimpse of God. We minister. We evangelize. We are God to the other.
Joan Sobala, SSJ