“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk. 16:15). When I used to read that verse, I would tend to think it was directed to only the early church, only for the clergy, or only for those holier than I. But St. Paul taught me otherwise.
Like the shepherds, we encounter Christ in a very personal way at every Mass–especially in the Eucharist. Yet it is not enough to simply and passively receive this great gift with joy. Joy naturally is received and shared. The full meaning of Christmas and its encounter with the Christ-child moves us to become evangelists, that such an immense joy might be shared with all.
How serious is the need to evangelize others? Is the matter of salvation a pressing one? Society suggests it’s no big deal. But the reality of the situation is actually quite different.
With the advent of the New Evangelization, there is a renewed interest in introducing others to the life of Christian discipleship. The laity are called to engage in this role. In order to do so fruitfully, they should be reacquainted with the sacraments of initiation.
What does it mean to evangelize and how does the preaching of the gospel or “kerygma” of the Church fit in? Pope St. John Paul II noted that any kerygma focused program would be incomplete if it omitted an invitation to ongoing catechesis and full communion with the Church for non-Catholics, and, on the other hand, a return to full communion with the Church for Catholics who have drifted away.