The course started by defining what the word meant. Google is your friend but for those who didnt check it up, she confirmed that it is a Greek word which essentially meant to proclaim the good news. She made reference to Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-18 and stressed that the order of the command given by Jesus is important. The command entailed 4 steps which were to followed sequentially to do the following:
- To go
- To proclaim
- To baptize, and
- To teach
She mentioned that Catholics normally omit the first 2 steps and start from step 3 to end at step 4, but that the normal process is to obey the divine command by GOING and taking a step FIRST! We are then to proclaim and then baptize and then only then do we teach. This was an eye opener for me, as I could see from where our lukewarmness as Catholics could originate.
THE TYPES OF PEOPLE
She then explained that in order to obey the command, we must be aware that not all people that we meet are the same. Thus, there is a need to identify the groups of people to whom we are to go. 4 categories were identified as indicated below:
- BAPTIZED PAGANS: This seeming oxymoron confused me at first, as I always believed pagans to be those who did not believe in Christ. How then could they be baptized ones? She explained with the use of a diagram. In the diagram, there was a director’s chair on which the person was sitting and there were chaotic blobs within the circle signifying areas of the person’s life. There was then the symbol of the cross outside the circle. She explained that these group of people were those that were in control of their lives since they were sitting on the director’s chair. They were also baptized BUT LIVED OUTSIDE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
- SIMPLE PEOPLE: She explained that this group of people had a certain faith in God but imperfect knowledge. I identified these to be those that are easily swayed with seemingly superior knowledge and the ones that St Paul cautions us not to be. She gave an example of those of Latin American decent who had a devotion to Our Lady Of Guadeloupe and would attend the vigil mass in great numbers to honor her but would be absent at the Feast of Christ the king and not do the same for Jesus Christ. It also applied to those who would have a strong devotion to a saint but not a personal relationship with Jesus.
- INTELLECTUALS: These group of people always fascinate me and it’s always a sheer joy to bring them into the fold. She explained this group as those that feel the need to know a higher being or Jesus but rationalize the teachings or doctrines and end up limiting God. I personally have taken it upon myself to engage these group of people because as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (aka “big red book”) reveals, rationalism and intellect have a place in a person’s salvation.
- EVERY OTHER: She explained that this can include the partying college student, the cult member, the free thinker and all those who don’t belong to the other 3 categories.
WHICH ONES DO YOU FEEL DRAWN TO EVANGELIZE?
HOW TO EVANGELIZE
- Informal: via one’s lifestyle which is often the best way since people tend to follow what they SEE
STAGES OF EVANGELIZATION
She explained that there are 4 stages to evangelization:
- PRE-EVANGELIZATION (of lost sheep): The “lost sheep” are similar to the “baptized pagans” who know of God but do not have Him at the center of their lives/ on the director seat. She explained that it is crucial to prepare hearts to receive the gospel before the person can respond to a call or commit/ recommit themselves. This preparation can be as simple as a single conversation which may be all it takes to respond to the call. It may also involve building a long term friendship with those whom you wish to evangelize as some people are hostile and more closed to such efforts to evangelize. This reminded me of the talk given by the Father at the Day out with the Holy Spirit at VGC on Saturday when he described the different categories of people that the Holy Spirit can touch which included those “hostile” to the Word. The example of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 shows the preparation of hearts process in this pre-evangelization stage as Jesus led the woman to warm up to Him until He gave her His word.
- PROCLAMATION STAGE (KERYGMA / Initial Proclamation)
This next stage involves an ardent proclamation which must involve passion and conviction. She stressed that this stage involves 3 components listed below:
- a) proclaiming with fire, passion and conviction
- b) the receiver is overwhelmed by the proclamation
- c) leads to the the receiver entrusting himself/herself to Jesus
She gave an example of when she was a recent convert and went home for a holiday to see her sisters. One sister was listening eagerly to her proclaiming while the other was dismissing her and jeering at her. The sister that was intently listening revealed to her two years later that after they had gone to bed that night she talked to Jesus and received the gifts of tongues as she was talking. This passionate proclamation caused her sister to be overwhelmed as she listened intently and led to her entrusting herself to God with the Holy Spirit giving her the gift of tongues.
She also stated that there are 5 points of the gospel message that must be proclaimed which were:
- a) LOVE: fact that God created us out of pure love
- b) SIN: reality that sin broke the relationship God had with man in creation
- c) SAVIOUR: that there is good news in spite of the sinful state
- d) CHOICE: that everyone must make the choice and accept that they are sorry for their sins or not
- e) CHURCH: that there exists the Holy Mother Church which reunites us all in fellowship and helps us grow
She also suggested the 2 bible verses that were key to the proclamation stage which are:
- a) JOHN 3:16: lies at the core of kerygma
- b)EPHESIANS 2:1-10: encapsulates the 5 points of the gospel message
- FORMATION OF DISCIPLES
This stage involves the person consciously deciding/ committing to have a personal relationship with Jesus. He no longer lives for himself. This level is what I personally ask God to bring me closer to each day in echoing the words of St Paul in Galatians 5:20. At this stage, Jesus directs the person’s life and brings order. The same image of the director’s chair was shown but this time the cross was within the circle and on the director’s seat symbolizing that Jesus was now at the center of the person’s life. The blobs in the circle were also now no longer chaotic but orderly which symbolized that Jesus brings order once you bring Him into your life and place him on the director’s seat to direct the affairs of your life. PRAISE GOD!
She continued by explaining what is needed at this disciple stage to be a good disciple. She mentioned 4 main things which were:
- a) daily prayer with the Lord
- b) study of the scripture/ catechism
- c) use of the sacraments especially Eucharist and confession
- d) fellowship/ be part of community
- e) be people of mission / service
- MISSION/ APOSTOLATE
She concluded that this final stage involved being empowered to go forth since the word “apostle” meant the one who is sent and encouraged us to attend the course to be so empowered as to fulfill the Great Commission!
MAY GOD HELP US AS WE DO IN JESUS NAME!