It is important today as we try to understand the call of the Church to evangelize, that we discover more fully what the Church has been teaching for the past two thousand years, what the meaning is. I think one of the ways we can get to the heart of this understanding is by reading some of the last words of our Lord Jesus Christ just before He ascended into Heaven. In speaking to the eleven disciples, Jesus says, “All power and authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and know that I am with you always until the end of time.”
What we see from the text is that the authority that was given to Jesus, was passed on and given to the Church. It was given to the Church to carry on Jesus' mission in the world, which was to preach the gospel and bring about reconciliation of the entire human race, back into relationship with God the Father, through Jesus Christ the Son. So that we can become one family, under God, through the Son, who pours forth the Spirit so that we all, through accepting Jesus, might experience the adoption as children of God, and live eternally in His glorious kingdom.
How we begin evangelization is very important. We have to start by proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and what he’s done and who He is. What is the Good News? This is what we call the Kerygma – the basis proclamation of the core message. That God in Christ, came into the world, out of love. He lived among us, he became one with us. He took on our humanity, so that later on, we can enter into his divinity. In this proclamation, we teach that Christ came, He lived among us, He taught us the way to the kingdom, He preached the promises of God, He healed the sick and he set people free from bondage. But we know that sin fought against Him. There were many who fought against Him, and he had to undergo tremendous suffering and was crucified for us. So He died on the cross and in so doing, He in His sinlessness, takes on the sins of all of mankind – all who ever existed and all who are yet to exist. He died and went down to the place of death – but because He is the author of life, death could not hold Him down, the grave could not hold Him back. He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and in so doing, He destroyed the power of sin and death. He set us free from the bondage of sin. He disarmed the principalities and powers of darkness. Not only did He rise from the dead, but He ascended all the way to the Father where He sits at the Father’s right hand as Lord of everything.
After he rose victoriously from the dead, and ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter, our strength, our guide, to empower us to live the way He wants us to and to walk the part He has set out for us, and that all men might be drawn to hear the Word of God and accept it, and through their baptism – which is the act of dying with Christ and rising with Him – we are joined to the family of God.
So the first step in evangelization is to proclaim the Gospel and enlighten the eyes and minds of people so that they may say ‘Yes’ to Jesus' gift of reconciliation and union with God.
The second step is to be baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then through baptism, to begin to listen to all of the teachings of the Master and to follow in His ways. It is through baptism that we can allow the Holy Spirit to take root in our lives and transform us. The Catholic Church teaches that the evangelization process begins with baptism and ends at the table of the Lord where we receive Him with all the fellow disciples of the Lord who have also been taught by Him and live in His ways.
About the Speaker:
Fancisco Paco Gavrilides is the Director for Evangelization and Catholic Men's Conferences And Ministry in the archdiocese of Detroit. He has served in movements of spiritual renewal in the United States as well as internationally, with a special ministry for Latin Americans and Hispanic Catholics within the United States. He is married and is the father of three children. Together with his wife, he is also involved in giving conferences for married couples.
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