August 21, 2015

Evangelization Supplement

Mark 3:13-15: The key to evangelization is encountering Jesus

By Fr. Patrick Beidelman

In May of 2014, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin decided to place the management of the ministry of evangelization within the department that also coordinates the archdiocesan Office of Worship.

The primary motivation for this flowed from the essential relationship that is shared between our worship of God and the evangelical mission of the Church. This is most clearly expressed in the dismissal at Mass when all are sent to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord,” and to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”

So, our experience of prayer and worship, especially in the Mass, necessarily leads us out from our experience of the presence of the Lord to proclaim and share with others the good news of salvation we have received.

Throughout several consultations with those in pastoral leadership, as well as with those who are presently engaged in the promotion of evangelization, several needs and issues emerged.

While the conversations we have had identified many and varied ways in which effective evangelization is happening, many expressed that we need a clear, concise definition of evangelization before we can identify what methods we will use to cultivate intentional discipleship.

Others expressed a need for greater support of and resources for those of different cultures and language groups within our archdiocese.

Finally, there was a caution among those consulted that we not try to develop a “one size fits all” approach to our cultivation of evangelization in our parish communities. Each community itself has a slightly different culture and most certainly will discern different priorities as it relates to this aspect of the Church’s mission.

So, what are some things that are emerging as possible next steps in the coordination of the ministry of evangelization in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis?

Recently, Archbishop Tobin has given us some important foundational areas of focus upon which we can build our approach. Echoing Pope Francis, our archbishop recently said at a meeting on this topic that “we can’t ask people to join us without giving them a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.”

He went on to describe that this encounter is personal but not private. In this encounter with Jesus, there is always an invitation to community, for we hear the message of our salvation through the Church.

Archbishop Tobin would also have us view the call to missionary discipleship (which this encounter calls every person to) through this Scriptural paradigm:

“Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mk 3:13-15).

In this passage, we read about the call of the first Apostles that is also given to each of us who follow Jesus: (1) to hear Jesus calling us; (2) to come to him and be with him (personal encounter); and (3) to be sent out to proclaim the power and goodness of the Lord in all we say and do!

Throughout our acceptance of this call to be missionary disciples, we must engage at all times, as the first disciples did, in a deepening of our understanding of the beliefs and practices of our faith family so that our core development in the Church’s teaching keeps us rooted in the truth of divine revelation.

This paradigm of Mark 3:13-15 brings us back to the connection between evangelization and our worship of God in the Mass and celebration of the sacraments.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that the sacraments are instituted by Christ and are the visible signs of the hidden reality and activity of God. They are signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ in the Church. (#774)

It is the encounters with the hidden reality and activity of God in the sacraments, especially in the Holy Eucharist, as well as with this work of the Holy Spirit that are so critical for the work of evangelization.

In the celebrations of the sacraments in the liturgy of the Church, the Holy Spirit acts in four unique ways, listed below (#1092):
 

  • The Holy Spirit prepares the Church to encounter the Lord; that is, to hear Jesus calling us, as in Mark 3:13.
  • The Holy Spirit reveals Christ to the faith of the assembly, and the Holy Spirit makes present the mystery of Christ here and now by his transforming power; that is, to come to him and be with him (personally encounter him), as in Mark 3:14a.
  • The Holy Spirit unites the Church to the life and mission of Christ; that is, to be sent out to proclaim the power and goodness of the Lord, as in Mark 3:14b.

In the next few months, several resources and methods for evangelization will be provided for parish communities to choose from by which we can intensify our effort in evangelization and missionary discipleship in our everyday lives.

Together, let us hear the call of Jesus to be with him and to be sent out through the action of the Holy Spirit and the celebration of the Mass and the Sacraments. For this effort, we need only to turn to one simple prayer: Come Holy Spirit!
 

Father Patrick Beidelman is executive director of the Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization for the archdiocese, and rector of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish in Indianapolis.

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