I have been meaning to read Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) for some time now but have only just got around to making time for it. Even before I began, I was convinced that this was a very important document for the life of the Church at this moment. Lot’s of folks from different churches are talking about the need for a re-evangelization, especially in the West, and I appreciate much from these conversations: joy as the root of evangelization; understanding worship as central to mission; and, the need for our lives to correspond to the faith we proclaim (i.e. witness).
Here are four characteristics of an evangelizing community, according to Francis (from Evangelii Gaudium, p.21-23).
An evangelizing community…
- …knows that the Lord has taken the initiative. He has loved us first (1 Jn 4:19) and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and become involved.
- …gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep.”
- …is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. Evangelization consists mostly of patience and disregard for constraints for constraints of time.
- …is always concerned with fruit, because the Lord wants her to be fruitful. It cares for the grain and does not grow impatient at the weeds. The goal is always and everywhere to see God’s word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal revealed.
- …is filled with joy; it knows how to rejoice always. It celebrates every small victory, every step forward in the work of evangelization.
What say you? Do these resonate with you? Is there anything you’d add?
Grace and peace.