Thursday, June 5, 2014
Are you ready for the New Evangelization? The Holy Spirit will help!
by Sister Ann Rehrauer
Recently Bishop Ricken issued a pastoral letter on the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay. The term "evangelization" comes from evangelium -- the Latin word for Gospel. Each Christian is called to live according to the Gospel and to preach the Gospel in a variety of ways.
In the readings for the feast of Pentecost -- the Church's first major evangelization event -- my eyes focused on the first phrase in the first reading: "when the time for Pentecost had been fulfilled" ...
The Scripture describes three aspects needed for a time of "fulfillment" or readiness:
- An audience open to hearing the message
- Preachers "on fire" with the love of Jesus
- The power and presence of the Holy Spirit who provided what was needed to get the message across to the listeners
We know there was a readiness in the listeners because they were devout people who had come to worship in Jerusalem. They were already people of faith and engaged. The apostles were on fire with love for Jesus -- but they lacked the tools needed for effective preaching. And the Holy Spirit provided the gifts of language and words that moved hearts.
Today is also a time of readiness. There is a hunger for the message of the Gospel and people seek Jesus -- whether or not they know it is He whom they seek. They may describe their search as "a reason to hope," or looking for "deeper meaning" or "something more in life." We know that only a relationship with Jesus will truly satisfy their deepest desires. Today there are believers "on fire" with love for God -- but they may not know exactly how to go about the task of sharing their faith. And though we don't hear the sound of a "driving wind" or see "tongues as of fire," we know that the Holy Spirit continues to live and move and breathe within us, giving whatever we need to witness and to share our faith.
We've been invited by our Bishop to participate in a six-year process of prayer, preaching and teaching, and growing in faith that we might become effective instruments in the work of salvation.
In the 1970s a Redemptorist seminarian named Jerry Welti wrote a Pentecost Hymn. Perhaps we might use the chorus as we pray to respond to that invitation with zeal:
"Spirit move this weary world, fill us with desire.
Light all creation with your love's pure fire.
Spirit make us strong once more, let your winds blow free,
Create us in your wind and fire, make us all we're meant to be."