Part of a continuing series of commentary on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium
Key to the spirituality of being evangelizers is our personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
“264… What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known? If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts. We need to implore his grace daily, asking him to open our cold hearts and shake up our lukewarm and superficial existence. Standing before him with open hearts, letting him look at us, we see that gaze of love which Nathaniel glimpsed on the day when Jesus said to him: ‘I saw you under the fig tree’ (Jn 1:48). How good it is to stand before a crucifix, or on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament, and simply to be in his presence!… “The best incentive for sharing the Gospel comes from contemplating it with love, lingering over its pages and reading it with the heart. If we approach it in this way, its beauty will amaze and constantly excite us. But if this is to come about, we need to recover a contemplative spirit which can help us to realize ever anew that we have been entrusted with a treasure which makes us more human and helps us to lead a new life. There is nothing more precious which we can give to others.”
He continues with insights worthy of our prayer and reflection: “266… Unless we see him present at the heart of our missionary commitment, our enthusiasm soon wanes and we are no longer sure of what it is that we are handing on; we lack vigour and passion. A person who is not convinced, enthusiastic, certain and in love, will convince nobody.”
“271. It is true that in our dealings with the world, we are told to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns. We are told quite clearly: ‘do so with gentleness and reverence’ (1 Pet 3:15) and ‘if possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all’ (Rom 12:18).”
Pope Francis also recognizes that it is not easy to remain enthusiastic over the course of time. We can become discouraged when we do not see results for all our evangelizing efforts. Think about how hard it is to get family members and friends to come to Mass on Sundays.
“275. In the second chapter, we reflected on that lack of deep spirituality which turns into pessimism, fatalism, and mistrust. Some people do not commit themselves to mission because they think that nothing will change and that it is useless to make the effort. They think: ‘Why should I deny myself my comforts and pleasures if I won’t see any significant result?’ This attitude makes it impossible to be a missionary. It is only a malicious excuse for remaining caught up in comfort, laziness, vague dissatisfaction and empty selfishness. It is a self-destructive attitude, for ‘man cannot live without hope: life would become meaningless and unbearable’.” And yet he has hope: “276… But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads.” “May we never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!”
The darkest part of the night is just before the dawn!