In the busyness of the past few days, I almost missed an incredible piece by Bishop Ricken. Along with being one of my favorite bishops to follow on Twitter, Bishop Ricken is the spiritual shepherd of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.
This portion of his remarks truly moved me:
Paul VI also challenges us to see evangelization as more than just a one-on-one encounter, but also the transformation of society and culture. Evangelization calls for a new way of living personally and as a people. The power of the Gospel affects, or as Paul VI states, upsets “mankind’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation.”
Yet Paul VI realized that even as the Gospel transforms peoples and societies, “the conditions of society in which we live oblige all of us therefore to revise methods, to seek by every means to study how we can bring the Christian message to modern man.” In other words, the way the Church spreads the Good News is always evolving. This has been evident recently in the calls for “new language” at the Synod of Bishops in Rome. It’s also the case with the many Catholics, bishops, clergy and lay people alike, who have generated a powerful witness through their use of social media, Pope Francis chief among them.
The vast and immediate reach of digital technology means today’s evangelizers have more tools than ever at their disposal. This is a gift, especially because proclaiming Christ to the world is not optional for the Church. All Christians are called to share the joy of Christ and his Gospel. Bishop Paul Bradley of Kalamazoo, Michigan, recently said on Twitter: “It’s not that the Church has a mission; rather the Mission, of spreading the Good News of Jesus, has a Church to carry out the mission.” Or as Paul VI said, “She exists in order to evangelize.”
Paul VI prayed that evangelization would become our “daily preoccupation” and “a way of life and action.” With the Lord Jesus Christ as the center of our lives, may we go forth boldly, sharing the joy of the Gospel with all we meet.