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If you had the great fortune of hearing Chris and Tony of Casting Nets speak at our Parish Mission, you will know the importance of Evangelization in the life of the Church. Indeed, everywhere you turn, the importance and relevance of bearing witness to the “Good News” of our Faith is being highlighted, and for good reason! However, let’s be honest—this might sound a bit scary and demanding. Me? An Evangelist!? What should I even do? For this reason, I wanted to briefly share some “practical” advice on what evangelization might look like.

The first thing is to remember what Evangelization is not. You are not called to win arguments. Instead, in the words of St. Peter, you must “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” (1 Peter 3:15)  This will vary from person to person, based on their capacities, life experiences, and interior life. We confess the same Lord, and perhaps the particularities of the Faith can be better explained by “the experts,” but we all know in the deepest way that our hope is in the risen Jesus Christ. You are not being called to relate the fullness of the Faith down to the last detail—you are called to talk about how that Faith awakens a living Hope in your soul. You are not called to be effective in this, but faithful. Do not set the bar higher than Christ Himself, my friends! You have not been called to be scholars, but witnesses to the Hope Christ gives freely, and this can be done by anyone, I promise!

The next thing is to remember where Evangelization is. This is made difficult by a sociological fact of our times. Forgive me this digression, but when I was a kid, we listened to the radio all day. If we wanted to hear our favorite songs, that meant we had to listen to many songs that were not our favorite while we waited! To this day, I can sing you word for word all sorts of songs that I do not like, because I didn’t really have a choice. Fast forward to today, new technology allows you to listen to only what you want, whenever you want. So while you might have a deeper knowledge of a particular genre than ever possible before, you will not have a broad knowledge of various music. The truth of the matter is that modern life has allowed us to do this with people as well. Instead of running a broad range of folks on a regular basis, we can manage to see only people like us for the majority of our lives.  This makes Evangelization rather difficult! While I am not saying that we must shun friendships with likeminded people, if we are mindful of this tendency, perhaps we will see there are people next door (literally!) that we can interact with. 

The last thing is to remember what Evangelization is. Too much is made out of the division between the “head” and the “heart” when it comes to matters of Faith.  The truth of the matter is that Christianity is at the same time both and neither of these. While Christianity does demand intellectual and emotional engagement, our religion is first and foremost an apocalyptic religion. Now, by this I don’t mean a religion of “the end times” or “dooms-day scenarios.” I mean apocalypse in its original Greek meaning: to reveal. Christianity is the religion of God revealing Himself to mankind. And God reveals Himself in a total way—not just in intellectual propositions or in intense feeling, but in a person, Jesus Christ. God reveals in Our Lord not only Himself, but the truth about us as well. So we do not present propositions or emotive appeals, but what God has revealed to us and about us.  This will involve the intellect and the emotions, but most of all, it will involve the story of God’s people. We may not be intellectual giants or people of great feeling, but anyone can tell a story!

- Bo Bonner

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