“Evangelization” is a word that gets tossed around many Catholic circles in conversations about what we all ought to do as Catholics to share the Gospel, but how many of us actually know what evangelization means and entails? Some of us might equate it with traveling to foreign lands and preaching the Gospel, which is definitely one form that it can take, while others may associate it with the shouting of jarring proclamations of the Apocalypse. While those are just a few perceptions that we may have grown up with or may still have now, evangelization can be summed up in this holistic definition from “Go Make Disciples,” a plan for evangelization in America from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
“Evangelizing means bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation and seeking to convert individuals and society by the divine power of the Gospel itself.”
Now, let’s break this down. What exactly does it look like to bring the Good News of Jesus into every human situation? Someone who models this for us is St. Paul. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, he declares, “We were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but our very selves as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Here, we learn that the incorporation of the Gospel into our lives and every situation that we find ourselves in can be done through sharing our life with others. Sharing life is not easy: it requires sacrifice and vulnerability. It is inherently sacrificial to give our time, our talents, and our hearts to others because, in this, we model the way that Christ shares his life with us. It is also a great act of vulnerability because by sharing life, we invite others into the messiness and the mundane.
This then begs the question: What does inviting others into the boring messiness of our lives have to do with evangelization? It matters because it is in our imperfection that we most profoundly encounter the Gospel--where our lives become a testament to redemption. It is where others, including ourselves, are able to see God’s grace transform our hearts and lives. How do we invite others into this? We do this by being real, being honest about where we find ourselves and about how the Lord is transforming even the smallest of situations in our lives--prudence is necessary of course because God is greater than our hardships and we ought not to glorify sin.
Ultimately, we are called to share our lives with others for the sake of the Gospel in a myriad of ways, manifesting His love through our relationships and our occupations. In whatever state of life that we find ourselves in--single, married, priest, religious--and whatever occupation that we may belong to, we are called to bring the Good News, which is the Gospel, into every situation. When we give God space to work in our lives and allow others to see the miracles of healing and restoration that He performs daily, many souls come to know the love of Christ and the hope of the Resurrection.