By Chris Benzinger
In the last blog, we looked at the myth “evangelization is not for me.” We established that evangelizing is the Church’s deepest identity and that the Church exists to evangelize. Since we are the church, then evangelizing is our identity, and we exist to evangelize.
Pope Francis encourages us, “Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization” (EN 120).
If you are a Christian, evangelization is for you. This week, we tackle the myth “I don’t evangelize because I don’t know enough”.
As I talk to people around the diocese, I ask this question, “What keeps you from evangelizing?” One of the most common responses is, “I don’t know enough”.
While knowledge is important, and we could all stand to learn more about our faith, the fundamental problem with this response is that it assumes evangelization is based on knowing facts.
At the core of evangelization, we will not find facts. We will find encounter; encounter with a person; encounter with the person of Jesus.
Pope Benedict XVI puts it this way: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which give life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (EN 7).
Have you ever encountered Jesus? Experienced him? Felt his presence? Have you ever just believed that Jesus was with you at a specific time in your life? It could be in church, or it could be in your kitchen. It could be at a church event, or it could be at the park with a child. It could be while praying, or it could be in a phone call from an unexpected friend or a stranger helping at a difficult time.
Christ is in us…all of us. When we recognize his presence in us, we encounter him. When we recognize him in others, we encounter him. When we recognize him in the scriptures or in personal prayer or in mass, we encounter him.
If you have encountered Jesus, then you have everything you need to evangelize. Evangelization is not about what you know but who you know. It's about sharing your encounter with the person of Jesus.
When my daughter makes a new friend at school, she can’t wait to come home and tell us about her new friend. She does not philosophize about friendship or the principles of a good friendship. She tells us about the encounter she had with her new friend - what they were doing when they met, what they talked about and plans they have to play again. More than the words she speaks about friendship, it is her joy and excitement about a connection with a real person that touches my heart.
It is the same with Jesus. As we have encounters with Jesus and God’s saving love, we share our experience with others. People are moved by experiences more than information.
Pope Francis speaks to this concern of not knowing enough.
“Anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love” (EN 120). We should not postpone the evangelizing mission; rather, each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are” (EN 121).”
Myth #2: BUSTED!
Evangelization is more than knowledge: it is experiencing God’s love and sharing it.
Questions for Reflection:
How have you encountered Jesus? There is nothing greater than the love of Jesus. Thank Jesus for his love, ask him to create opportunities for you to engage with others and tell people about your encounter with him.