Ministry Tip of the Week
Service can never be an end in itself. The men and women we're called to evangelize certainly are (ends in themselves), but the service itself is a means to an end: the salvation of souls - first our own, and then the souls of those we serve. What we're really after isn't the immediate necessities of life we might be able to provide. That's a noble humanitarian effort and, God-willing, we can provide these. The true goal, however, is an encounter with the living God, both for the one being served and for the one serving.
Sadly, when Catholics encounter the world it's all-too-often the world that does the "evangelizing." More and more Christians today are being swept up in the cultural soufflé of fads and worldly concern, and we're compromising essential components of the Way Jesus calls us to walk. We've all but lost our power (i.e. influence) to spread the Good News.
If you've ever encountered someone who professes faith in Christ, yet lives in blatant opposition to the Gospel as he goes about his daily routine, ignoring the needs of his fellow brothers and sisters, you've experienced Christianity stripped of its realism. How often I myself am guilty of this very thing! Instead of a living, transformative encounter, my presence is too often dry, standoffish, and empty of a contagious love so needed today; rather than faith, this sort of "witness" sows only doubt and suspicion.
An authentic (and consistent) life of charity is a sure sign of God's love at work in a soul. A flourishing vertical relationship with Jesus Christ explodes into the horizontal encounters with our brothers and sisters. When his love lives through us, our actions don't just resemble his, they become his. And that's evangelization.