How do we get from talking about evangelization to actually doing it? Pope Francis himself asks this question towards the end of his letter Evangelii Gaudium, “How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction!” (EV, 261) Even after a long letter about various aspects of evangelization the Holy Father realizes that something more than words is needed to set in motion his vision for an evangelizing Church.
Mark is a young man from our soup kitchen who has been on an incredible six month journey. After a sudden collapse in his health Mark decided to get off drugs and alcohol. And this time, for the first time, he wanted it. But he wasn’t doing it alone. While praying in St. Paul’s Church around the same time, Mark got a note from a woman in the Church he had known for 5 years. She said to him that she had been praying for him and that she had a sense that this year would bring many blessings. For the first time in his life he felt within him strength and confidence that his resolve to overcome his addictions would be fulfilled. The Lord was with him to set him free. But there was more to Mark’s journey.
Mark kept telling me about his nephew Jesse. Part of Mark’s motivation in recovery was this young man whom Mark said had been let down. This time Mark wanted to be there for him. Mark wanted to give back. Jesse likes bikes and he wanted to put his love for bikes to good use. Jesse had a dream and plan and Mark wanted to help him achieve it. Jesse wanted to do a sponsored cycle for cancer: 240 miles from Bradford to Liverpool and back. The trip was to be done in 24 hours. Last Saturday they accomplished their journey and they couldn’t be happier. Mark was set in motion by a new experience of freedom and liberation. Reaching out to Jesse with a helping hand to help him do something great was a no-brainer! Mark felt blessed to help and it certainly was a blessing for Jesse to have his uncle working so closely with him to accomplish his goal.
Brothers and sisters, this is the new evangelization! When we allow Jesus Christ to set us free with his saving love, when we allow his love to meet the deepest desires of our heart, when we allow Jesus to renew in us what has been abandoned, we too are sent out! We cannot help but hear within us his compelling and invigorating words, “Go, make disciples of all nations!” If Christ has met the deepest desires of my heart, then surely he can meet the desires of every human heart. As we allow the Lord in prayer and in the sacraments to set us free let us be set in motion by the conviction that the gift we have received from Christ is also an infinite gift for others! Pope Francis knows this. This is the more that sets us in motion, “the primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him.” (EV, 264) Brothers and sisters, let us go, let us be on our way with the love of Jesus urging us on!