Let’s begin the fifth chapter of Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, and let’s take up the topic of “Spirit-filled evangelizers.
259. Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, the Spirit made the apostles go forth from themselves and turned them into heralds of God’s wondrous deeds, capable of speaking to each person in his or her own language. The Holy Spirit also grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.
Many introverts protest they are not called to do bold things. But boldness is not just a matter of frequent and significant conversations with many people. A disciple can be bold in many ways, and Pope Francis reminds us that a transfigured life is what the Lord wants most of all.
What not to expect from the EG 259-288:
260. In this final chapter, I do not intend to offer a synthesis of Christian spirituality, or to explore great themes like prayer, Eucharistic adoration or the liturgical celebration of the faith. For all these we already have valuable texts of the magisterium and celebrated writings by great authors. I do not claim to replace or improve upon these treasures. I simply wish to offer some thoughts about the spirit of the new evangelization.
What is expected? Consider that no single individual can accomplish a spirited evangelization on her or his own. The activity of the Holy Spirit is essential. If we’re not sure we have it, and not sure the Church has it, then the solution is to pray for it.
261. Whenever we say that something is “spirited”, it usually refers to some interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes and gives meaning to our individual and communal activity. Spirit-filled evangelization is not the same as a set of tasks dutifully carried out despite one’s own personal inclinations and wishes. How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts. A spirit-filled evangelization is one guided by the Holy Spirit, for he is the soul of the Church called to proclaim the Gospel. Before offering some spiritual motivations and suggestions, I once more invoke the Holy Spirit. I implore him to come and renew the Church, to stir and impel her to go forth boldly to evangelize all peoples.
Pope Francis’ own desire is spelled out: “How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm …” The Spirit provides such words for him, as she does for any of us.