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What is the New Evangelization?

by Irene González-Hernández

It is bringing Jesus Christ to the people of our time with new ardor, courage, and creativity.  

This term was initially introduced by Saint John Paul II in the 1980’s. It refers to the Church’s commitment to renew her evangelizing activity and offer the Gospel anew to people who do not know it very well or who have moved away from the Church; it is “the courage to forge new paths in responding to the changing circumstances and conditions facing the Church in her call to proclaim and live the Gospel today.”

One of the central contributions of the Second Vatican Council is its understanding of the Church as a communion of disciples in mission. And this is key to grasping what the New Evangelization is. Let’s take a closer look to these three elements:

Disciples: Catholic faith begins with friendship with Jesus Christ, and being a friend of the Lord Jesus is to be immediately incorporated into the body of his other friends.

Communion: The Church is a “communio” a human reality with a divine core, which makes human reality unlike any other set of relationships in our lives.

Mission: This is a communion of disciples in mission. It exists to offer to others the gift it has been given of friendship with the Son of God and the life of grace that God’s intervention in history makes possible for each of us.

We must say that the Church is a communion of disciples in mission in which everyone is a missionary and every place is mission territory. And mission territory is right HERE: your kitchen table, your neighborhood, your workplace, your school, your life as a citizen. It is all mission territory and we are ALL missionaries.

A final remark in this mini introduction to the New Evangelization…

Always remember that the most important day of your life was the day of your baptism. It is so because that is the day that you became friends with Jesus Christ and that is when you were given the great commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19-20). Learn that date and make it an important part of your life.

Saint John Paul II said “it is more necessary than ever for all the faithful to move from a faith of habit, sustained perhaps by social context alone, to a faith which is conscious and personally lived.” That is what is needed from us in the New Evangelization, and that is what we can bring about as new evangelizers.

May the world of our time receive the Good News from Catholics whose lives glow with fervor because they received the joy of Christ.

Sources:

XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 2012.
Based on the notes taken from George Weigel’s lecture at SEEK2019.