September 17, 2021

Evangelization & Catechesis Supplement

Jesus: The foremost authority on evangelization

By Sam Rasp

Sam Rasp“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” Jesus tells us in the ninth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 9:37). Throughout his ministry, Jesus made many statements that are still quite relevant to the world today. This is one of those statements.

Not only has Sunday Mass attendance dropped during the last 10 years, but many people have not returned to Sunday Mass since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jesus knew that this would be something that his Church would struggle with throughout its 2,000-year history. He tells us, just as he told his Apostles that day, that there are way more people that need to hear the truth of the kingdom of heaven than there are people to present them with it.

As people continue to leave the Church, there are more and more people who are living outside the truth of the Catholic faith. Jesus, in his goodness and his love, did not leave us without an answer to this issue. At the very end of his public ministry, Jesus left his Apostles, and us, with the most authoritative statement ever made. Jesus tells us that:

“All authority in heaven and Earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:18-20).

Jesus tells us, with “all authority in heaven and Earth,” to go and make disciples of all nations. He is inviting all of us to be the laborers that he needs to gather his harvest. Not only is he asking us to go and gather his harvest, but he is also asking us to help make these people into fellow laborers.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Some might say, “How am I supposed to do that?” or even, “That’s not for me. Jesus isn’t talking to me.”

Pope Francis disagrees. He says in his apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel”: “All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization” (#120).

All of us are called to evangelize.

The pope goes on to tell us that “we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries,” but rather that we are always “missionary disciples.”

To answer the how, Pope Francis tells us, “Indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus” (#120).

All human beings have a longing for God written on their heart. Every person longs for a love that only God can give. We are all called to be “missionary disciples” to share that love with every single person we meet. Every baptized person has that love to share.

The question is, are we willing to share the love that Christ has given us?
 

(Sam Rasp is coordinator of evangelization and discipleship for the archdiocese’s Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization. For resources that help create a culture of evangelization in your parish, contact Sam: srasp@archindy.org.)

 

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