by Brandon Krygsman
We often fall into the habit of thinking there’s no need to evangelise. Sometimes, we even think that evangelisation is not the ‘Catholic way’ of spreading the Gospel. “We don’t have to talk about our faith, we can just evangelise subtly through our everyday actions by being a good person!” However, this idea of subtle evangelisation, is it something we Catholics have adopted as a mind-set?
Actually, evangelisation is more important than we know! In Pope Paul VI’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, it says the Church “exists in order to evangelise”. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) it also states that “The Church on earth is by her nature missionary”. Evangelisation is definitely something that is crucial to our Catholic identity. It is something that should be routine in our daily lives and not just something confined of our private group of church friends or something is pushed to those consecrated to religious life because its ‘their responsibility’. There is a need for us as a church to not just ‘subtly evangelise’ but to go out and proclaim the truth of who Jesus is.
Before we go any deeper, many might ask, what is evangelisation? Evangelisation is an ongoing process of conversion of spirit and change of heart because of the continual experience of God’s love for us. It is not just simply about talking to someone one time about Jesus but a continual sharing and journeying and conversion of heart to live a life for Jesus. So if that is the case, that means the evangeliser himself needs to be constantly evangelised to.
However, for many, I think we often try to use the subtle approach to evangelise instead of explicitly proclaiming the truth of Jesus to others. Sometimes it may be because we think there’s no need to evangelise or perhaps it is something only religious people do! Sometimes, we may also think even if I should try to talk to someone about Jesus, would I not just be imposing on his religious beliefs? So, before we get down to evangelising, let’s try to clarify some of these questions that people might have about evangelisation.
- Why is there a need to evangelise?
In CCC 851, it mentions,
“God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on their way to salvation. But the Church, to whom the truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth.”
If we ourselves have come to know the truth of who God is and His love, then it is important to evangelise to spread this truth for ‘Salvation is found in the truth’. If we do not, how can others come to know who Jesus is? As Pope John Paul II once said, “It’s not enough to know Christ, we must bring Him to everyone!” Jesus is the one who promises us everything that the world cannot offer and that is the truth. We need to evangelise because He is the truth that the world needs to hear.
Personally, I used to ask myself this question a lot. I used to think, why should I evangelise? However, after attending the School of Witness 2017, I saw for myself the truth of Jesus Christ and just how much he loves me for who I am. So after hearing this Good News, like all other good news, it was something I just wanted to share with those around me. I realized that it did not mean I had to share about deep theological insights but just about how I had experienced God’s love and I felt that it was something that others needed to hear too! I used to be someone who asked myself what is the point of evangelising? However, after coming to know the truth of His extravagant love for me, instead I ask myself how can I not?
- I can just be a good witness by being a good person, why should I evangelise?
I do not deny that it is important to live our lives as witnesses because we must reflect what we preach in our actions as authentic Christians. However, that is not enough. We need to speak to others about Jesus too. Imagine if Jesus became man and only showed us what it means to be a Christian but never preached or explained anything to the disciples, would we have come to know the truth of who He is or who the Father is?
So, even if we are good Christian witnesses, and someone being drawn to the joy and love that we exhibit in our daily lives asks us, “What is it that gives you so much joy?” We must be able to stand up for our faith! We must “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” – 1 Peter 3:15. Our witness of a good Christian life by itself is not enough to evangelise if we cannot confidently explain the source and reason for the way we live. If our good works and witnessing cannot ultimately lead ourselves and others to Jesus because we don’t give reason for it, then our efforts to evangelise would have failed.
- If I evangelise, would it not be imposing my own faith and religious beliefs on others?
Personally, I used to ask this question a lot. Would it not be imposing on my friends if I talk to them about Jesus? Seems like I’m trying to force them to believe in Jesus or forcing them to think the way I think. However, once a friend told me this, “Imagine you were invited to a huge endless buffet with the most delicious food in the world and best of all it is totally free and anyone can go! But as you enter the restaurant, you see your friend eating a miserable bowl of cup noodles outside while you are going in to eat this buffet! Wouldn’t you want to invite your friend along for this free buffet instead? If you don’t invite him to this free buffet, it is like the biggest bo-jio of all!”
This is exactly the same as our faith! If you have received this amazing love of God that is totally free, would you not want to invite a friend to share it with him? It would not be imposing but rather sharing with someone else our faith and helping to propose to others the truth which they may not have been aware of previously.
However, we must also do so respectfully and out of love. We evangelise because we have first received Jesus’ amazing love for us and so we want to share this love with others. Evangelisation is actually done because of love, out of love and for love! When we speak to others about Jesus, we do not speak forcefully but rather with love. We propose to them this love of Jesus we have received and also respect their decision should they say no for it is a decision one must make on their own!
- If I keep talking to my friends about Jesus, would it not be imposing on their freedom to choose for themselves?
Well if you think about it, what is freedom? Freedom is the ability to choose what one wants from all the possible choices available.
It is definitely good to respect others’ freedom. However, would we truly be respecting their freedom if we do not let them know all the options available before them? Would they actually be totally free to choose if they are not aware of all the options available to them? Hence, we as Catholics should help others gain awareness of this option of Jesus Christ and let them choose for themselves while we testify to what His love has done for us. So we as Christians should not impose of course, but we should definitely propose this truth to others for if we believe in this truth of who Jesus is and what he has done for us, wouldn’t we want others to come to know of this truth too?
Hence, if we ourselves have had a personal encounter with Jesus and come to experience this amazing love He has for us, we should boldly go out and share it with others! As a Church, we should go out to shed light on the truth of Jesus in our lives to allow others to come to know Him too. We do not have to be afraid of what to say but rather just simply share what the Lord has done for us and also trust that the Holy Spirit will lead us for “we have been given the grace to preach.” – Eph 3:8. Continue to ask the Lord for encounters with him every day that will evangelise us and help mould us to grow to be living, walking evangelisers of his love!
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