June-July 2011 Evangelization Exchange – Gutierrez

Grace is given to each of us!

by Magdalena Gutierrez

Guttierez

I know how hard it could be for a Catholic evangelizer to mingle in social situations. I was recently at a picnic meeting new people, listening carefully, trying to remember their names! As expected, someone asked “what do you do?” I knew my answer would have consequences, so I pondered: Do I tell this person I work for the Church or do I blend with the rest? I made a split second decision and, for the first time since I remember, I delayed revealing one of the must telling facts about me and simply answered “I work for a non-profit, but don’t worry, it’s not the Ku Klux Klan.”

Some people think that to be honest and true one has to always reveal their deepest beliefs and values, “I am Catholic and I work for the Catholic Church.” “I teach and train leaders and teachers.” But there are moments and settings when in order to communicate the Good News it is better to start by listening to your audience before you speak. When writing a symphony, most composers start gently. When writing a book, most writers begin small. When evangelizing we should imitate God, who called us to relationship by revealing himself in stages. How can a Catholic begin to evangelize?

Many times a good evangelizer does not have to step into a problem-solving role but rather extend Christ’s love and compassion. When establishing rapport with our audience, we may consider one of three routes: pathos – sympathy, logos – reason or ethos – character/values. In other words, if you have a friend who is suffering the loss of her husband or child, does she need Christ’s logic or compassion? There is no formula to be given other than praying that the Holy Spirit will inspire you and remind you of the attitudes and dispositions that Christ had while he was among us (See Philippians 2).

What is our secret tool to approach this mission then? Simple: Start with your relationship with Christ! When we learn to pray to him, talk to him, and go wherever he goes, we find ourselves asking him “how may I help” and undoubtedly he responds “You too go into my vineyard” (Matthew 20).  Many Catholics experience this relationship but would not necessarily see it as material for evangelization. We do not have to have all the answers or be professional evangelizers to participate in the building of his kingdom.

In our encounters this summer, let us relax and be joyful. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to be filled with Christ’s joy and hope. Let us be eager to listen what others may share about their lives. Let us recognize and maybe even celebrate with them how God may be guiding them in his Divine Providence. Our willingness to listen and our joy of trusting God our Father will then be the starting point for others who have been awaiting the good news. We all want to know we are loved and we are called to be children of the same Father. Happy summer!