To be an Evangelist

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Gospel of Matthew 28:16-20

Some of you may be familiar with the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.  A monument that is established to honor and remember the fallen and their families, who bear the loss of a loved one in military service to our nation.  There are 47 of these monuments located in 41 states in our country and the newest, which is located in Pocatello, Idaho, was dedicated this past Friday.  An event for which I had the honor and privilege to attend.

It was a solemn ceremony as there were several families present to witness the unveiling of the monument and hear the reading of the names of their loved ones who had paid the ultimate sacrifice for their service.  This dedication ceremony even more so significant considering it occurred on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend.  A weekend on which the country is asked to reflect and recall all of those whose lives were sacrificed for the benefit of their country and our freedom.

Today, on this the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we are asked to reflect and recall on a similar theme; that is the mystery of the Holy Trinity, which is the central mystery of the Christian faith, and our responsibility to carry the “Great Commission”, which is the message of salvation and hope, to all.

My sisters and brothers in Christ, let us not deceive ourselves for one moment.  Let us not fall into the terrible deception that our faith is without struggle, is without suffering, and is without sacrifice.  In the fulfillment of our duty to carry the message of salvation to all the world there is risk… a fact that is evident in the names of the Martyrs and Saints of the Church.

Today we read in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans his reminder that all who are called Children of God, and thereby joint heirs with Christ, must also suffer, “so that we may be glorified with him.”  Our salvation, our freedom from sin, our hope for our glorification with Christ did not come without suffering and sacrifice.  With our very presence here this day, in front of this altar, on which Jesus Christ offers up his very body and blood, we attest to the reality that our hope and our salvation is founded on sacrifice.

We also read today in the Gospel of Matthew the “Great Commission” which is Christ’s call to all who are his disciples to participate in the continuation of his work, which is the salvation of the world.  And so, this day the challenge, which is presented to us all, both laity and clergy, is: are we carrying out Christ’s command to “go and make disciples?”  In essence, how are we doing in our role, dare I say obligation, as evangelists?

To be an evangelist is not a responsibility or title many of us feel comfortable assuming.  Typically, the term “evangelist” is reserved for individuals with a specific gift, or charism, or apostolate.  We use that term to describe anyone but ourselves… right?  We say, “Oh, so and so really has the gift of evangelization.”  Or “The Spirit has given that person the ability to tell others about Jesus.”  Or worse, we abdicate responsibility all together and say, “Evangelize… that is what Protestants do.  We are Catholic we don’t tell people about Jesus.”

My friends in Christ, please forgive me for what I am about to say… when Christ issued this command… when he called his disciples together and laid out their mission and responsibility… there were no Protestants.  Christ was speaking, nay dare I say, he is speaking to us.

So, I will ask again… how are we doing as Evangelists?

When is the last time we have talked to somebody about Jesus?  When is the last time we have shared… with anyone… our own relationship with Jesus?  When is the last time we have invited someone to church?  When is the last time we have taken a moment to provide comfort, counsel, or share our concern with someone who was in desperate need of hearing about the hope available to them in the promises of Christ?

The responsibility of sharing with others the love of God, the forgiveness of sins, and the hope of salvation found in Christ cannot be abdicated.  This responsibility cannot be dismissed, or passed over, or ignored by the simple statement, “I am not called to evangelize!”  Christ in his final words did not provide an escape clause, or place conditions or qualifications on his command to “go and make disciples.”  Rather, his expectation, and our responsibility is clear, concise, and without exemptions… we are all called to share the Good News, the Gospel, with each and every person we know.

So how do we do that?

We do that first by living the Gospel.  We demonstrate to those around us that we are people of faith.  We do not succumb to fear.  We value human life above all things… and I mean all human life, just not life in the womb.  We show kindness and compassion to those who are both physically and spiritually hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, sick, and estranged.

We evangelize when we are generous with our time and talents.  When we share what we have even when what we have is not in abundance.  It is easier to give money when we have it and it is just easy to give our time when we have it, but how are we in giving when we are running short of both?

We evangelize when we prioritize being in right relationship over being right.  Jesus came to this earth, fully God and fully Man, so that all might be saved. The forgiveness of sins, offered through his sacrifice, is free to all, without condition or qualification.  As evangelists that must be our message.

My friends, just about everyday I meet people who are in desperate need of knowing that Jesus Christ desperately wants to have a personal relationship with them.  When I engage them in conversation, and they share the obstacles and barriers to having that relationship, they very rarely blame the Church.  In fact, from my experience, most people do not have a problem with the church, per say, rather, their problem is with us… the people who call themselves the church.

As evangelists we must never place conditions on God’s forgiveness of sins.  Jesus Christ died on the cross, and was raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven so that all of humankind may be forgiven for all of their sin.  As evangelists we must first be a people of love.

I ask now that we all, each and everyone of us, take a moment and reflect on that one person.  That one person whom God has placed on our heart.  That one person who desperately needs you to be the embodiment of Christ in their lives.  Who needs your generosity and to hear from you that God loves them and will forgive them.  Take a moment and recall that person’s name, visualize their face, consider their need… and ask God to give you opportunity this week to evangelize them.

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