Pope Paul did not lay out this apostolic exhortation in outline form. With today’s section we reach the end of the “theoretical” part one, in which he outlines the Scriptural and theological underpinnings of a modern evangelical effort. As one might expect, he expects, and Christ expects it to come full circle. The evangelized become those casting the nets for others:
24. Finally, the person who has been evangelized goes on to evangelize others. Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn.
To complete these considerations on the meaning of evangelization, a final observation must be made, one which we consider will help to clarify the reflections that follow.
Evangelization, as we have said, is a complex process made up of varied elements: the renewal of humanity, witness, explicit proclamation, inner adherence, entry into the community, acceptance of signs, apostolic initiative. These elements may appear to be contradictory, indeed mutually exclusive. In fact they are complementary and mutually enriching. Each one must always be seen in relationship with the others. The value of the last Synod was to have constantly invited us to relate these elements rather than to place them in opposition one to the other, in order to reach a full understanding of the Church’s evangelizing activity.
Do these aspects seem contradictory? I’m not sure they do–not to me. This list of elements acknowledges that, yes, evangelization is complex. But after the initial faith witness, the community employs the varied gifts of its members to lead seekers closer to Christ.
It is this global vision which we now wish to outline, by examining the content of evangelization and the methods of evangelizing and by clarifying to whom the Gospel message is addressed and who today is responsible for it.
And we’ll get to this tomorrow.