Why Evangelize?

Evangelization is a scary word for us Catholics. We are often afraid to share our faith with others. Perhaps it’s because our society is highly individualized and highly relativistic. We do not want to be perceived as imposing our beliefs on others. We want to be seen as respecting their freedom. So we don’t share our faith; we don’t proclaim the good things that God is doing in our lives; we don’t announce the Gospel.

 

Atheist comedian Penn Jillette posted a video on Youtube several years ago, where he tells a story about a Christian he met after one of his comedy shows.

 

[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhG-tkQ_Q2w]

 

In their document “Go and Make Disciples,” the U.S. bishops outline the American Church’s mission of evangelization and why we are called to evangelize. The document says that “the Lord gave us yet another reason to evangelize: our love for every person, whatever his or her situation, language, physical, mental, or social condition. Because we have experienced the love of Christ, we want to share it. The gifts God has given to us are not gifts for ourselves. Like the large catch of fish or the overflowing measure of flour, faith makes our hearts abound with a love-filled desire to bring all people to Jesus' Gospel and to the table of the Eucharist. As Jesus wanted to gather all Jerusalem, "as a hen gathers her young," so also do we want to gather all people into God's kingdom, proclaiming the Gospel even "to the ends of the earth."

 

While I do not fully agree with Jillette’s view of “prosyletizing” or evangelization or his conclusions about the existence of God, I think he raises a good point for all Christians. If we truly believe in the promises of our faith, we should be compelled to share it with others. Like Jillette said, if we believe in heaven and hell, and that a person might not enjoy eternal happiness with God, we should do everything in our power to let them know. At the very least, Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Perhaps this includes sharing the good news with them, no?