Friday, December 27, 2013

A passion for the Good News

     Evangelization, in a particular way the "new" evangelization, is the key word/phrase that describes the direction that the Church is headed in the years ahead.  Pope Benedict and Pope Francis both have spoken of it often, a Synod took up the issue, our Diocese is embarking upon an effort to stress the need for it, we have prayers to pray, catechisms and programs that explain the faith to follow, and all sorts of creative ways to make the message known to those who have not been exposed to the Good News and to renew that message within the lives of all who do believe but have become complacent. 

     And while all of this is good, the simple reality is that they build upon the introduction of an individual to the person of Jesus, the Savior.  Unless you know him personally there will be little interest, except for curiosity, in knowing more about him and the Church that he founded.  There will be little desire to enter into the life he offers, the family that he shares, and the promise that is at the heart of the message.  This new evangelization is about rejoicing in our blessedness and sharing what we have found.

     One man who had a deep love for Jesus and who was beloved of Jesus is John, the evangelist.  He is the beloved disciple, the teenager that Jesus accepted as a son, the only one of the disciples to live to a ripe old age and spend his time reflecting on his experiences and sharing that particular good news.  Today is his feast.  What is evangelization to be like?  In the first reading for his feast, which comes from his 1st letter, John says:

What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life -
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us -
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete."
     Read this through slowly, prayerfully.  It is powerfully simple.  It is the model for evangelization.  John says that what he has seen and testified to and proclaimed are realities that are from the beginning of time, the reality of the Word of life that became visible among us, Jesus Christ.  And the reason he shares this is so that all may share in fellowship with him and all believers in the Word of life, who share a fellowship with the Father of all and with his son, the Word made flesh, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The other reason that he shares this is equally important - so that his joy may be complete. I am moved by the clear and precise conviction found in John's words.  This is what leads others to Christ - personal story, deep conviction, a desire to share, and a joy that can only be complete if I give what I have been given.

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