Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Church must go out into the streets…. Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat”

"A Christian life lived with charity and faith is the most effective form of evangelization. Evangelization testifies to the transformative power of the Gospel and the mission of the church to sanctify society…" - U.S. Catholic bishops, Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization

Gospel text: (ACTS 2:36-41)
On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jewish people,
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made him both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Both the first reading and the gospel (JN 20:11-18) today have strong sentiments of evangelization. Peter, in the first reading, just by proclaiming the Paschal Mystery of Christ, convicts and baptizes three thousand people. In the gospel, Jesus appears, resurrected, to Mary Magdalene, who he then sends to the apostles to proclaim his resurrection. What is it about both Mary Magdalene and Peter’s words that cut straight to the hearts of listeners?

These words are the words of witnesses. Both Peter and Mary witnessed the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and experienced a profound intimate relationship with him. Their words were words of complete conviction to the Truth. They were not seeking to prove Jesus’ existence historically or philosophically or teach others of the facts of Christianity. Neither were they seeking to correct some sort of moral injustice in society. Peter and Mary Magdalene were simply bearing witness to Christ with their lives.

We are called to bear witness to Christ’s life, death and resurrection in our own lives as well. But we cannot bear witness to someone we do not know. Thus we must open ourselves up to knowing Christ through prayer, the Sacraments, and Scripture. Some of the greatest evangelizers in the world, people like St. Mary Magdalene, St. Peter and the apostles, St. Paul, St. Patrick, St. Francis Xavier, St. Isaac Jogues, all had this one thing in common: they all knew Christ and were willing to bear witness to him with their lives.

Evangelization is not something done in a far off land with strange people. It is done in our homes and in our own communities. Evangelization is not spread simply by words; it is spread most effectively by the way we live, by how we bear witness. Our call today and in this Easter season is to begin living like Christ is truly resurrected. We know this, because we know him.

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