Mittwoch, 22. Juli 2009

Why evangelize?

Not few Catholics harbor the opinion that evangelization is not really necessary, that God would save those who "lead good lives" anyways.

Now, I will not discuss the salvation of unbaptized people. Instead I would like to show one reason as to why we should evangelize. There is the danger of hell - of course -, but as in our own lives, fear ought not to be the primary cause for our Christian lifestyle. To be a Christian primarily out of a falsely understood fear is something intrinsically disordered (1 John 4:18).

What is the real reason? The real reason is charity. This simple, yet so profound word sums up everything about Christianity. It also shows us why sharing the Gospel - through whatever means - has to be part of every Christian's life.

According to the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, "to love is to will what is truly good for another". Connecting to this thought, there is no greater good than God, for God is charity (1 John 4:8, and as such, God is the eternal source of all which is good.

To be a Christian is to know God who is charity through Christ. To be a Catholic Christian is to be a partaker of Christ (Hebrews 3:14), a partaker of that greatest good imaginable, of charity itself.

"He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth." (1 John 3:17-18)

So how can we really - with good conscience - claim to be abiding in God's love if we choose not to share through the Gospel the greatest good, charity itself?

Is it not natural to have the desire to share our joys with other people, our neighbours? Is it therefore not appropriate to say that we - by dictate of charity - have to share that which is truly good with our neighbours, that they too may know of this charity in that truth which makes free (John 8:32)? And what greater joy is there than that which stems from charity?

"For all the law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Galatians 5:14)

Charity is the very core of the Christian faith. It is the greatest amongst the three theological virtues:

"And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity." ( 1 Corinthians 13:13)

So, in full accordance to the greatest commandments - that we ought to love God totally above all else and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40) - we have the obligation to evangelize; to evangelize not out of fear (for ourselves), but rather out of charity. If we truly love our neighbours as ourselves, then we will surely want them to know that greatest good which we as Catholics have come to known and are able to partake in through the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

The Evangelium Christi, the Gospel of Christ, can be summarized as the true testimony of true charity. Charity and truth, the two primary components of evangelization embodied by our Lord, Jesus Christ (John 15:12-14, John 14:6, 1 John 5:6). Wherefore, to evangelize is not to simply speak of any message, but to share with others the person of Jesus Christ. There are different ways of evangelization: Dominicans, the friars preachers, share the Gospel primarily through their charitable, orthodox preaching. Fransiscans, on the other hand, share the Gospel through works of charity especially amongst the poor. These two orders, with each having its specific charisma, show us that there are many different ways through which we - also as lay Christians, according to our personal talents - can truly and charitably evangelize.

A Christian who does not live according to the supreme principle of charity is living a disordered lifesyle. "He that loveth not, knoweth not God: for God is charity." (1 John 4:8)

"Grace be with you. mercy, and peace from God the Father, and from Christ Jesus the Son of the Father; in truth and charity." (2 John 1:3)

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