Pope Francis is calling the Church to carry out The Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World with a renewed commitment to and appreciation for the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing so that we and others may experience the joy that fills heaven and must fill earth when what is lost is found and what is dead is brought back to life.
Is it worth the effort – and can we evangelize any other way?
Yes… and no… to use the same expository style used by Pope Francis in this Apostolic Exhortation on a love that evangelizes or an evangelizing love as I am fond of saying when speaking, writing, and training others for the new evangelization.
Yes, it is worth it!
- Few joys this side of heaven surpass the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing!
- Few things compare to the joy of making Christ and His plan of salvation known.
- Few things demonstrate greater love for our neighbor and for the God who wishes everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 4: 2).
No, we should not evangelize in any other way.
- We evangelize with joy because “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” Both the evangelizer and the evangelized “who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.” (Evangelii Gaudium, No. 1)
- We cannot effectively evangelize if we are “Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.” (No. 6)
- We can experience daily the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing because we have first encountered Love Incarnate: Jesus Christ: “Thanks solely to this encounter – or renewed encounter – with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” (No. 8; cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 24)
- We, the evangelizer, “must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!” Rather, “Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that ‘delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ.’” (No. 10; Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80)
We can. We must. Evangelize with joy!
Download Martha's in-depth reflection on this section: Evangelii Gaudium Nos. 9-13
About the Author
Martha Fernández-Sardina is an international, bilingual speaker, and consultant touching thousands through radio, TV, articles, training seminars, talks, and new evangelization outreach projects, including Remember You Are Loved™, N.E.T.S.-New Evangelization Training School™, Prepare The Way™, the Hispanic Festival of Faith and the Month of Hispanic Evangelization. Her programs educate, enthuse, and equip Catholics for a new evangelization. Find, friend, and follow Martha and her Mission of Love at RememberYouAreLoved.com, Facebook.com/MFernandezSardina, Twitter.com/iEvangelize, iEvangelize.wordpress.com, and Vimeo.com/MarthaFernandezSardina. For a speaking engagement or a consultation, email her at iEvangelize1@gmail.com.