Evangelizing is a central part of being a Christian. As surprising as this may sound to many Catholics, the recent Synod on the New Evangelization emphasized that “every one of the Church’s actions has an essential evangelizing character and must never be separated from the duty to help others encounter Christ in faith” (n. 34). We would do well to take today’s saint—Andrew the apostle—as our model as we consider our duty to evangelize.
The only way people will hear about Jesus is if we share him with them. St. Andrew was a disciple of St. John the Baptist until John proclaimed that Jesus was “the Lamb of God” sent to take away the world’s sin. Andrew immediately followed Jesus and was invited to come and stay with Him. The Gospel of John recounts what happened next:
He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. (Jn 1:41–42)
Having met Jesus and stayed with Him, Andrew then found his brother and brought him to Jesus.
If we take our duty to evangelize seriously, then we must also take our growth in holiness seriously. The Synod says that “the Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself.” Only when we first “stay” with Jesus and experience conversion of mind and heart can we then share Him with others. The Synod speaks of the Sacrament of Penance as “providing an actual experience of the merciful face of God the Father, which brings about conversion and growth in . . . the individual penitent” (n. 144). Growing deeper in the practice of the Sacrament of Penance would be a fruitful way to appropriate the spirit of the new evangelization and the Year of Faith.
Many people today deeply distrust “organized” or “institutional” religion. Nevertheless, they still have a deep longing for spiritual fulfillment. As Christians, it is our duty to awaken this spiritual desire in others by sharing with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Synod says that “every person has the right to hear the Gospel of God to humanity, which is Jesus Christ” (n. 33). If we conform ourselves to Christ’s crucifixion, as did St. Andrew, perhaps we will be the credible witness they need to find the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Image: Bartolome Esteban Murillo, The Martyrdom of St. Andrew