Invitation and encouragement are the purpose of evangelization by proclaiming the Gospel and leading and accompanying others into communion with the Blessed Trinity and with the Church. This Holy Communion is found in the receiving the Holy Mysteries, especially Baptism, Chrismation, and the Eucharist. Through these Holy Mysteries, the person becomes an adopted child of God through sharing in God’s very life. Additionally, one becomes a member of Christ’s body, that is, the Church.
We are created for this communion with God and each other. Because of this, we are severely compromised at the very core of our being when we do not have this Communion.
What else does the Church have of value to give to the world but the opportunity to enter God’s life through Christ? To offer anything else is not to give Mankind what it really needs. Without Christ, the Church is nothing more than a social service organization. These organizations do good work but they cannot heal man’s deepest wound: death. Neither can they heal man of the estrangement from God that is sin. Furthermore, they cannot give man meaning and love.
Only the Church truly offers the solution to man’s deepest longings and hopes by offering to man communion with God.
Are we convinced of this? Are we convinced that the Blessed Trinity and our Communion with Him is the most important thing above all else: That life without Christ isn’t worth living? If we aren’t, we need to ask God to convince us of the truth that we are nothing without him. Without this conviction, our proclamation of the Gospel loses its urgency and power. We end up trying to win someone over to our particular way of life rather than to the Communion with God that all of mankind cannot do without.
Evangelization is the invitation to the fullness of life that is only possible through sharing God’s nature! It is the invitation to enter into Christ: the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is life of death! It is an urgent responsibility – no to fill our parishes – but to offer a life preserver so that those estranged from God will not perish.
People are desperate for Communion with God and the healing and hope it brings. They wander through their life seeking ways of covering up the gnawing meaninglessness and hopelessness caused by estrangement from God.
We are the ones that God has given the task to invite people into this Communion. As individuals, parishes, and as an eparchy, we must make our own the words of St. Paul: “For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16)
Fr. Deacon Michael Lee serves in the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma (Ohio), and is a graduate of the International Theological Institute at Trumau, Austria. Bishop John Kudrick leads the Eparchy of Parma.