I don’t know about you, but for me the most frightening thing about evangelization is that God is calling me to do it. It all sounds great when we talk about the mission Jesus entrusted to his apostles, how they were empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and how the Church down through the ages has preached the Gospel and led people to Christ. All of that sounds great. I want people to love Jesus and the Church. I want people to go to heaven. I want them to find fulfillment and joy and peace.

I want all of that for people, and I’m glad the Church does evangelization. But do I want to be the one who takes-up the mission of the apostles? Do I have what it takes to share the Gospel with my family members, my friends, my co-workers, my neighbors?

To be honest, there have been times in my life when I’ve said “no” to those questions. We live in a society that tells us not to talk to other people about religion. Even today, when people post all kinds of opinions on social media, it is still largely taboo to talk about religion when we’re face-to-face with someone. And I am not a confrontational person by nature. So sometimes it has been easier for me to lean on the old idea that we only need to preach by our example.

Now, our example is essential. But in my heart I think I always knew that words were also necessary. As I consider my own Catholic faith, I know that I owe it not just to the good example of my family, friends, parish priests, and teachers, but also to their words.

Now, our example is essential. But in my heart I think I always knew that words were also necessary. As I consider my own Catholic faith, I know that I owe it not just to the good example of my family, friends, parish priests, and teachers, but also to their words.

Remembering my upbringing in the faith makes me profoundly grateful for all of the good people God has placed in my life. But it also reassures me that I can do evangelization. Even now that I am a priest, sometimes I need that reassurance. And I would like to make three points that help to reassure me about the “do-ability” of evangelization. These points are connected to this Sunday’s readings and I hope they help all of us to see more clearly the answers to the questions, “Why should we evangelize?” and “How should we evangelize?”

First, all evangelization is motivated by love. We read in John’s Gospel (3:16), “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” When I think about the people who have shared the Catholic faith with me, I know that they did it because they loved God and they loved me and wanted me not to perish, but to have eternal life.

And we see in today’s Gospel something else about the kind of love we need to have. It needs to be self-sacrificing love. The love that puts God first. Love that puts the needs of others ahead of my own needs, my own comfort. The widow in today’s Gospel, as Jesus says, “contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” You and I may find evangelization difficult, inconvenient, or intimidating at times. But should any of that stop us? Can’t we love like God loves? Don’t we want to make sure that other people “might not perish but might have eternal life?” Can’t we give of ourselves, sacrificing for the sake of others?

Each of us needs to recognize the stakes involved in evangelization, that it really is a life and death matter. And we need to think about how much we love and want the best for our families, friends, fellow parishioners, and even strangers. Then it becomes clear that the benefit of sharing the Gospel far outweighs the cost.

Each of us needs to recognize the stakes involved in evangelization, that it really is a life and death matter. And we need to think about how much we love and want the best for our families, friends, fellow parishioners, and even strangers. Then it becomes clear that the benefit of sharing the Gospel far outweighs the cost.

Here we’re already coming to the second point, which is that evangelization is rooted in one radiant, penetrating truth: Jesus Christ has died for us; he has saved us from sin and death; he has conquered our enemy the devil; he is risen and is in heaven right now interceding for us with his Father. That is the message of today’s second reading. Jesus is alive right now. He wants us to live. Not just to exist, but to live. Forever. And the gift he offers us demands our response. We have to say “yes” if we want the life he’s offering. And that “yes” has to change and shape our lives. One day, he will come again and we will be judged on our response to the gift Christ offers us.

None of this is a matter of opinion. It is the truth. For everyone. Whether it is accepted or rejected, it is true. And the truth needs to be told, just as I would share the truth if I knew there was a medicine that could cure cancer. I would never let some awkward feeling stop me from sharing that truth. And the truth of Christ is infinitely more important for me to speak and for people to hear.

The third and last point is that what we’re about in the Catholic Church is a whole way of life, passed down to us from our parents and grandparents, from our pastors and teachers going all the way back to the apostles and to Christ himself. The earliest name for Christianity was simply, “The Way.” Our Catholic faith is about Jesus, who is “the way” (John 14:6). It’s also about a way of seeing things, a way of relating to other people, a way of spending our time, a way of worshipping God.

When I was a boy, I loved Jesus and the Blessed Mother. I also loved being part of a family and a neighborhood. I loved going to our parish church for Sunday Mass. I loved my friends and my Catholic school. I loved reading the Lives of the Saints. I loved May Crownings and the Stations of the Cross and saying grace before meals and seeing crucifixes and images of Mary and the saints in my own home and in the homes of family members and friends. All of these things were evangelizing me, and I’m sure the same is true for many of you.

We have a treasure that is actually easy to share with others, if we just appreciate how great it is in the first place. What we are called to do is not rocket science. We just need to have faith, hope, and love enough to pass on the gift that has been given to us. We have to pray, as individuals and as families. We need to think about what has made a difference in helping us grow in faith. And we need to look for opportunities to share the gift of faith and then to go ahead and do it, without worrying about whether we’re doing it perfectly or not.

We have a treasure that is actually easy to share with others, if we just appreciate how great it is in the first place. What we are called to do is not rocket science. We just need to have faith, hope, and love enough to pass on the gift that has been given to us.

When we look around at the world, and see how broken it is, and how broken so many people are, how can we not want to share something so good with them? Something that would give them real healing? That would give their lives real meaning? That would give them hope because they would know the destiny to which God is calling them?

In the Eucharist we celebrate each Sunday, all of these threads are woven together. Christ is present to us. Real love, self-sacrificing love is given to us as Food and Drink. The promise of heaven is given to us. And we are equipped, empowered to share this promise with those we love, and those we are called to love.

The truth is that the only thing we should fear is failing to share Christ with others. We have nothing to fear when we do our best to unleash the Gospel. In Jesus, we have everything to give, and everything to gain.

Fr. Charles Fox is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit currently assigned to the theology faculty of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. He holds an S.T.D. in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome.