“Evangelism? That’s not my charism, not my personality.”
“I need more education, first.”
“I evangelize by example.”
But the Second Vatican Council and all Popes since teach that all Catholics are called to evangelize in both deed and word. After all, we are told in I Peter 3:15 “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”
But practically, how are we to do this? Not everyone is a Fulton Sheen, and not everyone can manage to get a degree in theology. But the story of the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:5-42) teaches the kind of evangelism that all of us can manage.
Jesus models it for us. He comes to a town where everyone is a member of a heretical sect and sits down by a well. A woman comes to draw water. Israelites usually don’t talk to Samaritans, much less drink out of their ritually impure vessels. To boot, men usually don’t make conversation with women.
But Jesus recognizes her existence and affirms her by being willing to accept a drink from her. Once she gets over her shock, a dialogue ensues. It starts out about water, wells, Jews and Samaritans, and the proper venue to offer pleasing worship to God.
But Jesus asks her questions that throw her off a bit and make her think. He finally asks a question that leads her to “fess up” and admit her need. “Where is your husband?” She’s hungry for love, and has run through quite a few partners looking for the real thing. Jesus’ soul-piercing glance tells her that his is the love she’s been looking for. She abandons her water jar and returns to city to tell everyone about Jesus.
Did she wait until she had cleaned up her act and attained a high degree of virtue? Did she wait until she had a masters in theology? Did she sit down with people and demonstrate from Scripture why he was the Messiah? No.
She acted immediately. And she simply told people, with joy, confidence, and conviction, what Jesus had done for her. She shared her experience and invited people to come and experience him for themselves.
And that’s how a large portion of that heretical town came to believe. And that’s how a large portion of the Roman Empire came to believe. There were no crusades in stadiums, no TV preachers. Christians simply listened to neighbors and co-workers with respect and love, asked questions to find out their needs, and told how Jesus had met similar needs in their lives. And then an invitation was issued to come check it out.
We need to get over our fear of sharing the good news, to be aware of the spiritual needs of those around us, and share His love. More people are looking than you think. “The fields are white for harvest.” (Jn 4:35).
Copyright © 2014, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
About the Author
Marcellino D’Ambrosio (aka Dr. Italy) is a New York Times best-selling author, Catholic speaker, pilgrimage leader, and theology professor. Connect with him at dritaly.com or @DrItaly.