Giving Witness To Your Faith via Evangelization
|"It's not enough to know Christ, we must bring him to everyone!"
-- Pope John Paul II
"Evangelize? That's something Protestants and Jehovah Witnesses do, not Catholics!" Ever heard that before? Perhaps you have made a statement like this. The Truth is that Catholics are called to share their faith with everyone by their living witness as practicing Catholics, by taking the time to learn about their faith and to be ready to share it with everyone. This can be summed up in one word, evangelization. In fact, since Jesus founded the Catholic Church (Matthew 16:18) Catholics are the first Christians. Therefore Catholics are also the first who Evangelized and went forth to bring the truth of the Gospel (Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again!) to all nations (Mark 16:15). I find it ironic that any practicing Catholic could say that evangelization in not a "Catholic thing" but a "Protestant thing". I find it as ironic when I hear some Catholics try to say things like "the church forbids us to read the Bible" or "quoting the Bible to defend our faith is what Protestants do, not Catholics!" This is simply false and contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church to say the least.
First I will clear up this last misconception about the Bible. The Church NEVER forbids its people to read the Bible. Perhaps this misunderstanding arouse from the church teaching that "no one is to interpret the Bible apart from the church who has be given the authority to teach and to declare what is the inspired word of God (Council of Carthage 393ad). It would be akin to someone trying to interpret somebody's family album, which they were not part of at the time (2 Peter 1:20, 3:15). Although we are not to interpret the scripture apart from the church in no way means that the church forbids us to read the Bible. In Fact, she encourages us to read the Bible! St. Jerome of the 4th century stated, "ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ!" This holds true for us today. We read in The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 132-133, "Therefore, the 'study of the sacred page' should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too -pastoral preaching, catechetics, and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place- is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture. The Church forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful to learn 'the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ,' by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. 'Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."
There is no doubt that Holy Mother Church exhorts us to read the Holy Bible. It is not just a "Protestant thing" but it is a long lasting tradition of the Catholic Church to give its people the Gospel message in the Holy Scriptures. In the past she has conveyed this by doing plays and having the Bible told in the pictures of stained glass for all that could not read. She also made available to everyone the Bible for those who could read but could not afford a Bible. Yes as we have just seen, we can share and defend our Catholic faith using Sacred Scripture. As the Bible itself command us, "Be always ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you but with respect and gentleness" 1 Peter 3:15 which leads us back to evangelization.
I recently read something that makes so much sense and perhaps will make someone think twice before saying that Catholics should not share their faith. Here is what I read by a 21 year old Catholic named Cindy Ray from her A+ essay on "faith and works": Necessity of Bearing Witness
"As followers of Christ, it is not enough to have faith, but we also must proudly profess it and constantly bear witness to it. (Cf. CCC 1816) The Catechism explains that in response to the amazing revelation that God has given to us, "Our duty toward God is to believe in him and to bear witness to him." (CCC 2087) Bearing witness means that by our speech and our actions we must attest to the truth of the Gospel. We are called to be a light shining in the darkness. Bearing witness to our faith is a necessary part of having faith. In fact the Catechism goes so far as to say that "Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation." (CCC 1816) This is because if we do not bear witness to our faith then by our very silence we are denying it. A very frightening statement that Jesus makes is that "Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." (Matt 10:32-33) This shows the importance of bearing witness to Christ and why it is necessary for salvation.
We are also called to bear witness to the faith in all our works. It says in the book of Matthew, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:16) It is through our works that others will come to see the faith that we have in God, and give glory to him. How are people supposed to see our faith in God if we don't live it out by doing good works? In the book of James he explains, "Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith." (James 2:18) It is impossible to show that you have faith, and therefore bear witness to your faith, unless it is lived out in your life. It is not enough simply to say that you have faith, for who will believe you if you act contrary to your faith. Bearing witness to our faith is a necessary part of having faith, and it is through the witness of our lives that others will come to believe and find salvation as well." (Excerpt from Faith and Works by Cindy Ray; online at www.catholic-convert.com)
I would like to conclude with Holy Scripture and some quotes from the Catechism not only to show that you are called as Catholic Christians to evangelize but to show you how God has empowered us with His Grace to do so. Remember that no one has to be a theologian to share his or her faith. Take some time to learn your faith so you can live your faith and ultimately share your faith.
"How terrible it would be for me if I did not preach the Gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16).
"Faith come by hearing how will they hear if there is no one to preach?" (Roman 10:14-17).
"Proclaim the good news to all!" (Mark 16:15).
"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!" (Romans 10:15).
"We have been given the grace to preach" (Ephesians 3:8).
"You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world, no one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, they put it high for everyone to see!" (Matthew 5:13-16).
"God wills everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).
"We are called and empowered to share and to defend our faith by virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation!" (CCC 1313).
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Back to Apologetics Articles
Back to Home Page
About | Apologetics | Philosophy | Spirituality | Books | Audio | Links