During his homily at Thursday morning’s Mass, Pope Francis reminded us that every Christian has an obligation and a mission to accomplish: evangelization. “Get up”, draw near”, and “start with an actual situation” are three keys to unlock what evangelization is.
The wind of persecution sows God’s Word
Pope Francis began by explaining that the “wind of persecution” experienced by the early Church drove the disciples out of Jerusalem to other parts of Judea and to Samaria.
Just like the wind does with seeds from plants, it transports and sows them elsewhere, so also it happens here: they went elsewhere, with the seed of the Word, and they sowed the Word of God… From the wind of persecution, the disciples brought evangelization…. This is how the Lord evangelizes…. This is how the Lord wants us to evangelize.
“Get up and go”
Evangelization is not proselytism, Pope Francis continued. True evangelization takes place under the action of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who indicates in mysterious ways where we are to go and to whom we are to “proclaim the name of Jesus”, Pope Francis said. Commenting on the Spirit’s interaction with Philip, the Pope said:
And he begins saying: “Get up and go”. Get up and go to that place. An “armchair” evangelization does not exist. “Get up and go”. It is always on the move. “Go”. Movement. Go to the place where you must declare the Word.
Pope Francis recalled the many missionaries who left everything to bring the Word of God to far off lands. “Not having the antibodies to resist the illnesses of those lands”, many died or were martyred, he said.
Draw near in order to use actual situations
Instead of beginning with a theory, the Pope said that we need to draw near to what is actually occurring and start from that. Pope Francis illustrated this with the example of Philip evangelizing the Ethiopian eunuch.
Evangelization is not theoretical. Evangelization takes place person to person. The starting point is a situation, not a theory. [Philip] announces Jesus Christ, and the courage of the Spirit moves him to baptize [the eunuch]. Go beyond, go, go, until you feel that your work has been accomplished. This is how to evangelize.