November 30, 2018

Evangelization Supplement

Evangelization as a commission of love

By Theresa Inoue

Theresa InoueJesus replied, “The first is this: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:29-31).

Love God and love your neighbor: these are the greatest commandments of the Christian faith.

The archdiocesan Office of Evangelization hosted an evangelization workshop at the end of October. L’Alto Catholic Institute president Tim Glemkowski and Father Todd Riebe, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, both discussed evangelization at the service of love.

In Glemkowski’s primary address, he identified one root cause behind a lack of contemporary evangelization: a lack of contemporary love. Were we to truly understand the immense gift of the faith, and then to love as we are called to love, we would effectively proclaim the Good News to everyone we encounter.

Glemkowski translated love into a concrete calling: our vocations are founded upon the discovery of freedom, hope and joy sourced from God’s truth. Equipped with powerful tools for Christian renewal, we introduce restoration into a world that desperately craves real love.

Glemkowski proposed a question: “Do we care more about avoiding the awkwardness of evangelization than we do about loving our neighbors?”

It was in that moment that I realized for the first time my own selfishness in keeping Jesus to myself because of my own pride, manifested in avoiding the awkwardness of approaching the topic with others and in not wanting to “impose” on others by proclaiming the Gospel. He reminded the participants of the difference faith is supposed to make in our lives. I know that I am better off because of my relationship with Christ; why should I hide others from knowing Jesus like I do?

Both Glemkowski and Father Riebe shared personal stories regarding individuals in their own lives who desired to hear about and be invited into the faith. In each of their shared experiences, there was expressed remorse and regret in not providing that opportunity sooner.

Father Riebe discussed a non-Catholic neighbor who simply desired an invitation to Mass—only an invitation! This neighbor had for years witnessed the Riebe family’s weekly departure for Sunday morning Mass, and she longed to be invited too. It was not until she approached her final days that she asked to be received into the Church, telling Father Riebe of her long-ago secret desire for a welcome.

I often struggle with the notion that people are simply turned off by the Gospel, but that is a lie on my own part. We can definitively pinpoint the desire to know and to love Christ in each of our hearts, despite the drive of the evil one to keep our witness confined inside.

We as the Catholic Church remember the souls of the faithful departed each November. Only weeks ago, I traveled home for the funeral of a close uncle. While I still needed to grieve over the loss, I did not despair because of my hope in the resurrection. I have hope that Christ has conquered death and has made it possible for my uncle to share with him eternally the glory of heaven. I have hope that Christ will keep true to his promise, that if we live a life committed to faith in him, by his grace we will be counted among the saints.

While I am continuing to pray for my uncle, in the meantime I can assure you that he lived a life of discipleship to our Lord. He suffered immensely in the weeks before his death, but he radiated joy, knowing that he ran his race in faith. In his life on Earth, my uncle was better off because of his relationship with Christ. Because he lived a life committed to our Lord, I pray and hope that he is rejoicing among the saints in heaven.

Reflecting on his life, I saw that my uncle heard and shared the Good News in word and in deed, followed the footsteps of Christ, and maintained joy in the Christian faith, despite his suffering.

And so we circle back to the question: Do we love enough? Do we love enough to challenge the fear of awkwardness to share the Good News? Do we love enough to share the hope and joy found in Christ? Do we love enough to invite our neighbors, family and friends into the life of the Blessed Trinity? Do we love enough to evangelize?

If and when we forget, let us remember the very call of Christ: to love God and our neighbor.

As we close this month of All Souls, let us continue to pray for those who have gone before us. But at the same time, let’s proclaim the Good News to the living. Let us continue to foster a place of encounter with Christ Jesus, our Savior!
 

(Theresa Inoue is an Echo Apprentice in the archdiocesan Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization. She can be reached at this address: tinoue@archindy.org.)

 

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