As Christians, the importance of evangelization to our faith cannot be over-emphasized. It occupies so central a place in our very concept of faith- for if God, out of love for us, sent his son to lead us back to him by reproducing his very life in us, the fruit and indeed the proof of that very life of God in us is a life that seeks to also reach out to others. Like I have pointed out in a previous article, we were saved by the one mediator between God and man- Jesus Christ, who scripture says, ‘gave himself a ransom for all’. (1 Timothy 2:6). A true Christian spirit therefore consists in a ‘being for all’. Also, as St. Paul points out in Philippians 2, it follows that the kind of mind we should have amongst ourselves is such that was present in Christ Jesus who ‘emptied himself’ (Gr. Kenosis) for us, and so we should empty ourselves for others.
I sometimes like to put it this way; Jesus died on the cross for us so that we may die on the cross for others. The divine life that was emptied out into us was not just meant to be contained in us-No. It was rather meant to be emptied out as well into others. Evangelization is therefore a fruit of conversion, of salvation. Imagine a world full of Christian evangelists, of ‘other christs‘.
The centrality of this truth is shown forth from the very first day the good news of Christ’s birth came to earth- to man. I feel very confident to say that the very first Christian conversion happened on the Annunciation in Luke 1:26, when heaven brought the good news to earth. On that very day, and in that very hour, the first person who received the definitive word of God did so from the mouth of the angel, from God. She did not just receive it through her ears, she accepted him through her fiat to give the Logos flesh and bear him to the world. In her acceptance therefore was contained not only a conversion to receiving and believing in Christ, but also an acceptance to bear him to the world, despite all obstacles, challenges and danger to her own life. Is this not the right attitude to Christian evangelization that has also been exemplified by the Saints and heroes of our faith? By giving birth to Christ, she gave birth to divine life- divine life for all men, for all of us, and so she became our Mother.
St. John would agree with me, for he said,’those who receive him, who believe in his name, he gives power to become children of God. ‘ (John 1:12). And so she became the first child of God by Christ, for as the angel said to her, the holy spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you…(Luke 1:35) and also about her later on, blessed is she who believed… (Luke 1:45).
What we are told next however was that she rose and went out with haste. (Luke 1:39) Again, we see an evangelical spirit. She who was first to receive the holy spirit in her christianization now went to her cousin Elizabeth and once she greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy Spirit.(Luke 1:41) and the babe in her womb leaped for joy, John the Baptist had received the good news as well. (Luke 1:41)
Who better can we learn the centrality and mode of Christian evangelization than she who became the Mother of my Lord, who in herself was the simplest christian model of evangelization? For from her we learn that true evangelization is a fruit of our believing, that it consists in going out of ourselves, of our comfort zones to meet others and to stay with them-as Mary did with Elizabeth.(Luke 1:56). From her we learn humility of heart as central to conversion and evangelization for she who was full of grace, who had in her womb a child who was to rule all nations and whose kingdom would never end, greeted another whose child was not even worthy to untie the straps of her son’s sandals. From her we learn a heart constantly attuned to God in prayer-indeed that first act of evangelization began with a dialogue with God in Luke 1:27 and ended with a communication with God- a prayer of praise in Luke 1:46-55.
We learn that the first Christian evangelization was a family evangelization . For as people love to say, ‘Charity begins at home’. And so, the family, should represent the unit of evangelization, our homes should be transformed by the love and spirit of God that dwells within each and every one of us, every member of our families should be touched and filled with the spirit of the gospel that we have received, just as Mary did for her cousin Elizabeth.
Finally, we learn her magnanimity, that inner spiritual disposition within her to want to do great things for God, to desire to let the will of God-no matter what it is, or how tough it is, or how uncomfortable it will make us- be done in our lives. She teaches us to never look back when the spirit calls us to do great things for God, to evangelize, to challenge the status quo in so far as it’s not God’s will, such that the Kingdom of God will be made manifest in the world.
Are you being stirred by the Spirit of God to do something great for him? Is the Lord calling you for a special mission of evangelization? Look to her, take her as your model, ask her to teach you to please him.
In case you forgot , her name is Mary and She is my Mother….