Just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus told the apostles:
“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Beginning on Pentecost, the apostles did just that, and the work of evangelization continues to this day. It is a calling that has not changed over the years, as Pope Paul VI affirmed in his letter on “Evangelization in the Modern World.”
We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church. It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present day society make all the more urgent. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize.
Evangelization is not an optional add-on. It is at the very heart of what it means to be Catholic followers of the Lord. Yet, in spite of this clear mandate, we may still be tempted to respond to this call to evangelization by saying that “Catholics evangelize with how they live their lives, not by our words.” We may even quote the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary.” But this doesn’t mean that we can choose between proclaiming and witnessing the gospel, as if they both accomplish the same thing. Paul VI went on to explain in “Evangelization in the Modern World” the important interplay between word and witness in this way:
The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed.
← BackNext →