The Catholic Church has embarked on a renewed mission that seeks to invite all into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. The mission, called the New Evangelization, calls us first to know who Jesus is and his existence in our lives. It calls for us to reach out to those who perhaps have “lost their faith, or no longer find a home in any Church… or perhaps have never known Jesus.”
Christ calls all people to himself. We need to reach all people. Throughout his public ministry, Jesus welcomed the stranger, healed the sick, offered forgiveness, and expressed his eagerness to give rest to the weary and burdened. We want to be that on our campus. How do we, today, follow the call and summons of Jesus to seek out the stranger, heal the sick, and welcome the weary?
The New Evangelization is helping us channel our efforts to do just that. Each of us is called to deepen our own relationship with Jesus, have confidence in the Gospel, and be willing to share it. If we don’t know Jesus, how can we share our relationship with him with others? How can we share this Good News? We need to make Jesus the center of our evangelizing. We need to share our own stories of conversion and our love for Christ.
Pope Francis has written a wonderful apostolic exhortation called the Joy of the Gospel which helps Christians to better understand our call to share in the joy we experience in Jesus.
We have many Christian groups on campus that are led by and joined by faith-filled staff, students, and faculty. Their call is to provide campus ministries whose doors are open and welcoming to all. Pope Francis says we are called to “stop rushing from one thing to another” and be present to someone. Just one person. We must be always ready to welcome a new face or someone returning back to our ministries after a time away.
Pope Francis says our campus ministries are to be “sanctuaries where the thirsty can come to drink in the midst of their journeys.” We should be loving and show mercy. We must get involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives. We should also be “center of constant missionary outreach.” This love should be at the core of our efforts to care for the marginalized and needy.
We are challenged to go forth in joy despite times when ministry isn’t joyful. We are challenged in our respective ministries to see if we follow the call to “grow in Christian life, dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration.” Do we put ourselves out there and possibly be hurt in our attempts to reach all people? Isn’t it worth it??
Pope Francis said, “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”
Soooo, we are called:
To go forth and make disciples of all (students)…to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel.
To go forth and invite all to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
To go forth in joy as we plant seeds of trust and love.
To go forth with each other as a team, relying on each other as brothers and sisters.
To go forth breathing new life into the ministry for an authentic evangelical spirit.
To go forth to satisfy the thirsty and teach the entire truth of the Gospel.
To go forth and get muddy.