By Fr. Roy Cimagala
Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE)
Talamban, Cebu City
The task of evangelization is a constant and abiding one. Every person has to be evangelized. Everyone situation can be and should be an occasion for evangelization. Evangelization is not optional. It is a necessity.
The basis for this assertion is nothing less than the marching orders Christ gave his apostles before he went up to heaven: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mk 16,15) These words are also meant for us, since Christ’s redemptive mission has to go on until the end of time, this time with our cooperation.
We have to understand that the gospel is the living word of God that would make Christ, the fullness of God’s revelation to us, alive in our lives. It is imperative, therefore, that the gospel be spread around as widely as possible with the view of making everyone to live according to it. And that’s simply because Christ is the pattern of our humanity, and the redeemer of our fallen humanity.
We should always feel the necessity and urgency of this duty. If at the moment we still feel cold toward it, now can be the time to work out such vivid awareness of this duty. It’s never too late to do so.
To carry out this duty well, we need to be always attentive to God’s will and word, on the one hand, and the conditions of the people we have to evangelize, on the other. We act like middlemen who try to look for ways to let God reach his people and vice-versa.
This is where we can talk about the need to learn how to evangelize at scale, that is, in a manner that is attuned to how the people can receive God’s word effectively. Things have to be adapted to their level of understanding, without compromising the integrity of the faith. They need to get in touch with God on an inclined plane.
The usual problem we encounter in pursuit of evangelization is that the doctrine of our faith is usually transmitted in a manner that is over the head of the people. Because of this, people get turned off rather than motivated to know, love and live the doctrine.
In this regard, we cannot overemphasize the need to truly know God by praying, getting to know him intimately, studying the doctrines of our faith which is not simply a matter of putting them into rote memory but rather of discerning the living spirit behind them. In that way, we can get to know God vitally, not just mechanically.
This will obviously involve the constant exercise of our faith, hope and charity and the other virtues that go into developing a vibrant piety. God is, of course, supernatural par excellence, and so we cannot dare to know him completely. But that incompleteness should spur us, rather than hinder us, to know him better and better everyday.
With respect to knowing the people as they are, we cannot overemphasize the need to always be with them, one way or the other, if not physically, then mentally, emotionally, socially, or spiritually.
We should try our best to deal with them as closely as possible. And if possible, we should try to gain their friendship and confidence. If not, we can always use the new technologies to somehow complement or supplement what may be lacking in having a direct personal contact with them.
Fr. Roy Cimagala is Chaplain, Paref-Springdale School, Lahug, Cebu City. Email: email@example.com