The work of spreading the message of Jesus Christ is a calling to all Catholics. It is our commission as a nation of Christian people to evangelise. However, an evangelisation that stays inside the closed walls of the church is not evangelisation of the Good News.
So said Bishop Burchell McPherson of Montego Bay, in his reflections on evangelisation, as told to The Catholic Opinion.
The bishop observed that when we hear the word ‘evangelisation’, we tend to think of something we need to be doing with our non-Catholic brothers and sisters. He used scripture to challenge this, quoting 1 Corinthians 9:16, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel”, and in Matthew’s Gospel 28:19 where Jesus commissions His disciples to “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…”.
Bishop McPherson said that the Second Vatican Council affirmed this when it declared that the Church is “missionary by her very nature”.
He mentioned that in recent years, Church leadership has been more outspoken about the mission of the Church. Pope John Paul II, at the beginning of the new millennium, began referring to a “new evangelisation”, of which there are three parts: personal and spiritual renewal, witnessing to others, and the transformation of society and culture, including pro-life activism, social justice work, service to the poor and marginalised, and engagement in politics or even the arts.
Bishop McPherson commented that one of the most common approaches to evangelisation in our daily lives is to change our lives so that we live an evangelistic lifestyle by listening to the stories of others, while telling our own story of spiritual transformation, and looking for opportunities to tell Jesus’ story of good news.
“Simply put, the new evangelisation is all about Jesus Christ and living out the faith that draws us closer to Him. It is about our relationship with Christ, as well as helping others to continually develop a relationship with Him, too,” he said.
The bishop explained that an easy way to think about the new evangelisation is to break it down into three parts: know the faith, live the faith, and share the faith. For the new evangelisation to work, he said, it is necessary for each of us to engage in all three areas on a “constant, unending basis”.
He added that the fruits of evangelisation are changed lives and a changed world. The strength of our having accepted the gospel does not only come from what we feel or what we know; it comes also from the way we serve others, especially the poorest, the most marginalised, the most hurting, the most defenseless, and the least loved.
Bishop McPherson maintained that when we proclaim the gospel, it brings glory to God, God moves in people’s heart to produce faith and they believe and they begin to live for Him instead of for themselves.
“We must let our faith shine on the world around us, radiating the love of Jesus by the everyday way we speak, think and act,” he said.