Before ascending into heaven, Jesus instructed His disciples saying, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19). And, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, they did just that. The disciples went out from Jerusalem and carried the message of the Gospel to all corners of the earth. The Church continues to follow Jesus’ command, and God calls each of us to share in that same mission.
The work of evangelization is not a responsibility belonging only to clergy or consecrated women and men. From the beginning, the Gospel has spread from person to person. Each of us has the opportunity to bring others to know Jesus and the Good News of our salvation through Him. In baptism we become partakers in God’s own divine life. Because of this, every aspect of our lives has the potential to be an avenue through which God’s grace can reach others. This means that we not only evangelize through our words; rather, all our actions and the decisions we make can also speak to the truths of the Gospel.
A life which radiates the Gospel is built upon prayer and virtue. We strive to follow the example of Jesus, staying united to the Father in the Holy Spirit and seeking to act as He did, fostering the qualities, attitudes and habits which He exemplified for His disciples. Jesus taught His disciples, and they took what they learned from Him and then went out and taught others. The disciples also brought their friends to Jesus so they could hear Him speak or, perhaps, be healed by Him. It was a work in which many took part.
The same is true today: evangelization happens through the prayers, work and sacrifices of many. I want to take advantage of this moment to reflect on the great gift the Center for the New Evangelization (CNE) is for our archdiocese. The many gifted individuals who form the CNE team assist parish leaders in fostering deeper communion and discernment of a renewed mission to bring the Gospel to all. They also seek to find ways to reach the lost, those who have drifted from Christ or perhaps have never known Him, and invite them to an encounter with the God who loves them. The CNE team provides spiritual resources and practical training in various areas of evangelization and discipleship: youth ministry, faith formation for adults of all ages, marriage and family life, and Hispanic ministry. In doing so, they assist people throughout our archdiocese and beyond its borders in learning to live a life which radiates the Gospel. Many of our parishes have benefited greatly from the retreats, workshops, conferences and one-on-one assistance the CNE team members provide. Through the guidance and resources of the CNE, parish ministries become more effective in forming disciples of Jesus Christ. This is made possible by your generous support of the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA), for which I am deeply grateful.
None of us can reach heaven alone; we need each other. This is why Christ gives us the Church. Together we can bring more people to know, love and follow Jesus Christ, but that work begins with our own discipleship. We must first be with the Lord through prayer and virtuous living, and then go out and tell others what we have seen and heard (cf. Lk. 7:22).