10. The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: “Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others”.[Aparecida Document 360]When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfilment. For “here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. This is certainly what mission means”.[Aparecida Document 360]
A characteristic turn of phrase for Pope Francis introduces an idea that is not at all new, something Pope Paul VI raised with us at the very end of his 1975 document, one of the chief obstacles to fruitful evangelization–ourselves.
Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ”.[Evangelii Nuntiandi 80]
The recovery of enthusiasm can be a challenge–this I know from many years in ministry. There are days when I feel like I’ve been to a funeral. But these are the times to rely on God’s grace, and not our own cleverness or ideology or what-has-worked-before.
And for those of us who are without the glow, or who feel it fading, that is the time we can turn more intently to God.