Proclaiming the Gospel is not proselytizing, it should not be reduced to "functionalism" nor an “easy” task". It is "becoming all things to all", it is "going out and sharing in the lives of others, accompanying them; accompanying their journey of faith, to grow in the journey of faith. "
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Evangelization "is not knocking on a neighbors door and exclaiming: 'Christ is risen!'. It starts with living the faith, talking about it with meekness, with love, with no desire to convince anyone, but freely. It is freely giving what God has freely given to me: this is evangelizing”, said Pope Francis at Mass this morning in Casa Santa Marta, commenting on a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, where it speaks of "the need" to proclaim Jesus.
But, in the words of the Pope, evangelization should not be reduced to "functionalism" nor a simple "stroll”. First of all, it cannot be reduced to a "function." Unfortunately, even today we see Christians living this service as a function. Laity and priests who boast of what they do. "This is the boast: I am proud. It reduces the Gospel to a function or even a source of pride:' I'm going out to preach the Gospel and bring many to the Church '. Proselytizing: that too is a source of pride. Evangelization is not proselytizing. That is, it is neither an “easy” task, nor a function nor to proselytize: this is not evangelization. This is what Paul says here: 'For me it is not a boast. For me it is a necessity 'that is laid upon me. " A Christian has an obligation, but with this power, like a necessity to bear the name of Jesus, but with his heart. "
Proclaiming the Gospel cannot be a source of pride, but - as St. Paul exhorts us - "an obligation". But what is the "style" of evangelization, "how can I be sure that I do not reduce it to an easy chore, that I do not proselytize, and do not to reduce evangelization to a functionalism?". The style "is to become all things to all", it is "to go out and share the lives of others, accompany; accompany their journey of faith, to grow in their journey of faith. "
It is putting ourselves in other's condition. "If he is sick, get close, not weigh him down with arguments", "to be close, assist, help him." He is evangelized "with this merciful attitude: be all things to everyone. This is the witness that the Word " asks of us.
Francis recalled that during lunch with young people at World Youth Day in Krakow, a boy asked him what he should say to a close friend who is an atheist. "It’s a good question! We all know people who have left the Church: what should we tell them? And I said: 'Look, the last thing you need to do is say something! Begin to do things and he will see what you are doing and ask you and when he asks you, you say something ''. Evangelization is to giving this witness: "I live like that, because I believe in Jesus Christ; this arouses the curiosity of the question 'But why are you doing these things?' Because I believe in Jesus Christ and preaching Jesus Christ and not just with the Word - you must proclaim the Word - but with your life. "
This is to evangelize, "and this is done free of charge", "because we have freely received the Gospel," "you cannot or sell grace, salvation: it's free! And we have to give it for free. "
Francis then recalled the figure of St. Peter Claver, whose feast is marked today. A missionary who "went to preach the Gospel." Perhaps, "he thought his future would be on of preaching: instead the Lord asked him to be close, next to discarded of that time, the slaves, the blacks, who arrived there from Africa to be sold". "And this man did not wander around saying he evangelized; He did not reduce evangelism to a functionalism nor proselytizing: He announced Jesus Christ with gestures, speaking to the slaves, living with them, living like them! And there are many like him in the Church! Many who are destroying themselves to proclaim Jesus Christ. And all of us, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation to evangelize, that is not to knock on our neighbors door and say: 'Christ is risen!'. It is living the faith, talking about it with meekness, with love, with no desire to convince anyone, but freely. It is freely giving what God has freely given to me: this is evangelizing”.