Saturday, October 5

Embracing Discipleship: Principles of Evangelization

Taken from Father John's Sunday Bulletin

Before undertaking a parish evangelization effort, there are three clear prerequisites.

1. Know God. Our first task in proclaiming and sharing the Gospel is entering into and living in the reality of God -that is, existing in personal communion with Him. The goal of evangelization is "growth in the life and faith and spiritual understanding" and, ultimately, life in the eternal Kingdom of God. Such growth finds its beginning in our knowledge of God and our conviction that Jesus Christ is not only "the Son of the Living God, Who came into the world to save sinners," but the very center of our lives. "Let your life testify to the presence of God within you," wrote Saint Gregory of Nyssa. Evangelizing, in a nutshell, cannot take place if the evangelizers have not been evangelized, if they are not fully immersed in and committed to living an Orthodox Christian lifestyle in the Holy Spirit that, ultimately leads to the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

2. Build community. Our second priority is to acquire a spiritually-based communal attitude, to manifest a spiritual quality of life, rooted in and revolving around the person of Jesus Christ, within the entire community. Where there is hatred, bitterness, resentment and hostility, the community of love is destroyed; and without love the spiritual character of the Church is destroyed. Evangelization efforts will be useless without a receptive and caring parish.

3. Proclaim and serve. Our third prerequisite is to go out into the world proclaiming the message of God by serving human beings in distress and providing for their essential needs in this world. The light of God must be allowed to shine through us and God's goodness must be made to season our life by our active ministry to others. We must proclaim faith through actions that shine in the surrounding world.

Discipleship. Ultimately, evangelization, while rooted in these fundamental principles, will not take place without the serious commitment on the part of God's People to accept the call to discipleship, to learning and sharing all that has been revealed by Jesus Christ and entrusted to us in the Tradition that we have received.
In Matthew 16:13-16, we read, "Jesus asked His disciples, 'Who do men say that the Son of man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!'"

Peter's answer must be our answer if we are to share the Gospel, which is rooted in nothing other than the person of Jesus Christ. Before we can share the Good News with others, then, we must know and love God, enter into communion with Him through Jesus Christ, and allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Knowing and accepting Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the Living God" - in a word, discipleship - is the very foundation of evangelization. Discipleship presumes action: in short, we cannot proclaim the Gospel to others if we have not fully embraced it in our own lives.

1 comment:

Tahara said...

Great words by Father John :-)

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