Lessons on evangelization sometimes come from the most unexpected places.
My two-year old son recently discovered that he loved lollipops. On Halloween, trick-or-treating at the first two houses we visited, he received chocolate and was unimpressed. At the third house, you should have seen his eyes light up as he was offered an array of lollipops to choose from. He enthusiastically picked his favorite color, thanked the couple profusely, and proceeded to announce loudly to all his fellow trick-or-treaters up and down the street with a big smile on his face: “That house has lollipops! That house has lollipops!”
My son is turning out to be a natural evangelist. All he did was share the good news of his discovery with those in his own little circle of influence. I thought to myself: If my son can do it with lollipops, surely I can do it with the message of Christ!
This is also one of the key messages in the Archbishop’s pastoral letter, A Light Brightly Visible. He echoes Pope Francis’s exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, which reminds us that every baptized Christian is called to share the Gospel with others. The pastoral letter offers the Archbishop’s vision of every person, parish, and Catholic institution working together to fulfill the mission of sharing the Gospel of Christ’s love and mercy with everyone.
The impulse to share good news, whether it be about lollipops or Jesus, is always a direct response to an irrepressible joy. For Christians, the joy of encountering Christ is what inspires us to share this Good News with others. Embracing our role in this mission and what it requires of us in our own place and time is how we become missionary disciples.
To dig a little deeper into what this means for you and your ministry, I recommend reading and fully digesting the Archbishop’s pastoral letter. Read it individually or gather with a small group of parish staff, leadership, or parishioners. As you read the letter, consider the following questions:
- What are the main points of each section?
- What are the key messages to individuals, parishes, and parish clusters? How do the challenges posed to these three overlapping audiences fit together and depend on each other?
- What do you think you are being called to do personally in order to be a missionary disciple? How do you feel about this?
- How did the pastoral letter change your idea of what a parish is meant to be and do?
- How can we help one another to resist the temptations listed in Section 5 and reinvigorate each other to take up the mission of evangelization?
If you or your parish has used an effective method to engage the pastoral letter, please share your experience in the comments box below. My son joyfully shared an exciting message about lollipops. What do we need to transform in ourselves and our parishes so we can share the exciting message about the love of Jesus?