Introduction - Go and Make Disciples
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Mt 28:19-20)
"I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" (Lk 12:49)
1. Jesus set the world on fire, and that blaze goes on even today. In the Gospels there is Bartimaeus, blind and begging on the roadside; he hears of Jesus and, no matter what, will not stop shouting until Jesus stops to heal him. Once healed, he follows Jesus.1 And the unnamed centurion, not even a Jew, whose servant is dying: "I am not worthy," he says. Jesus' command saves the servant's life—and the depth of the centurion's faith astonishes even Jesus.2 There is also the woman of Samaria who goes to get water; after she meets Jesus and feels his kindness, she opens her soul and her pain to him. Not only does she believe—she must tell others the Good News as well!3 And there are Jesus' friends, the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus: the sisters would often welcome Jesus into their house; and when Lazarus died, Jesus wept, but then he put his tears aside and raised him. This caused many to believe.4 Each of these people, touched by Christ Jesus, responded to him and so became part of the story of salvation.
2. We have heard these and so many other gospel stories of Jesus Sunday after Sunday at church, in our own reading and sharing of Scriptures, in the words mothers and fathers tell their children, in the private meditation of our prayer, and in the celebration of the sacraments. We have become, through the power and truth of these stories, and through the free gift of grace, disciples of Jesus.
3. We have heard them, and they will not let us rest. They burn, and they still set us ablaze!
Part I. A Vision of Catholic Evangelization
4. We present to you, our Catholic sisters and brothers, this plan and strategy of evangelization because the fire of Jesus burns even today. We, your brothers and your bishops, profess our faith in Christ Jesus, in the revelation that he is in the kingdom that he proclaimed, and in the Church that he founded. We proclaim that, through our faith, the stories of Christ continue and that our lives are part of the story of salvation.
5. We say about ourselves as bishops that God has touched our lives in Jesus, bestowed his Spirit, given us salvation and hope, and called us to live in witness to his love.
6. We know this is true of you as well: you have received the Spirit of Christ Jesus, which brings salvation and hope; your lives are a witness of faith. Whether you
were baptized as a child or joined the Church as an adult, you have a story of faith. Whether you sincerely live your faith in quiet or have a great public ministry, you have a story of faith. Whether you have a grade-school knowledge of the Catechism or have a theological degree, you have a story of faith.
7. We all have—and are—stories of faith, for through the Spirit, the Gospel of Jesus Christ takes hold of us in the proclamation of his Word, and Jesus touches us in the celebration of his sacraments. When this genuinely happens, we are all set ablaze by his love.
8. We can understand evangelization in light of these stories of faith: namely, how we have been changed by the power of Christ's word and sacraments and how we have an essential role in sharing that faith through our daily lives as believers. Looked at this way, evangelization is what we are all about! Being involved in the story of salvation is what faith is all about! Evangelization is the essential mission of the Church.5
9. As we begin this plan and strategy, we turn in prayer to the Holy Spirit, that we may receive the guidance we need to set the hearts of Catholics in the United States on fire with a desire to bring the Gospel of Jesus, in its fullness, to all the people of our land.
- Mark 10:46-52
- Luke 7:2-9
- John 4:7-42
- Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-45
- On Evangelization in the Modern World (Evangelii Nuntiandi), no. 14