One of the most often-used phrases in TV commercials is, “But wait, there’s more!” Just when you think you’ve heard it all and that it can’t get any better, the seller doubles down and tells you that it’s about to get even better—beyond your wildest dreams! (“Order now and get a second set free!”)
In our proclamation of the Gospel, we have a “But wait, there’s more!” moment: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! Just when you thought you’ve heard everything there is to hear about Jesus—his teachings, his miracles, his healings, and his laying down his life for us by dying on the Cross—we hear the Good News that he is Risen! Sin and death have been conquered once and for all. And if God can overcome sin and death, he can overcome anything, so we have nothing to fear and every reason to be joyful!
The Resurrection is the linchpin to evangelizing catechesis, since it is the linchpin to the Gospel. St. Paul stated firmly that, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) So what does it mean for us to proclaim the Risen Lord?
- It means, first of all, that we proclaim a Person, not a set of beliefs, not a memory, not a history lesson, but a living Person with whom we are invited to enter into relationship.
- It means that we take time in our catechesis to invite learners to talk with the Risen Christ through reflective prayer. Too often, we teach as though we invite Jesus into the room and then make him sit in the corner while we talk about him!
- It means that we always proclaim with joy! (This is not to be confused with “putting on a happy face” or being glib.) When we evangelize, we lead, not with doctrine or morality, but with an attitude of joy. Bishop Robert Barron compares it to teaching someone the love of the game of baseball, something that we don’t accomplish by handing out a rule book. We teach the love of the game by inviting people to play baseball and experience the joy of the game. Then we teach them the rules.
- It means that we create a climate of joy when we gather people, something done through hospitality as well as through praise, namely singing.
- It means that we accompany people who are not experiencing joy but are rather in despair. Our presence alone is the assurance that joy will return; we need not engage in happy talk as much as simple presence and reassurance.
- It means to always be proclaiming a future of hope—not of doom and gloom—since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ indicates what is in store for us if we remain faithful.
- It means to teach and practice mercy since the Risen Christ returned, not for revenge against those who betrayed him, but to extend mercy and forgiveness.
An evangelizing catechist is not a teacher of a subject but a facilitator of an encounter—an encounter with a living Person: the Risen Christ!
Read the other articles in the How to Be a More Evangelizing Catechist series.
Download a flyer of the nine strategies. Go deeper with these ideas by reading my book, Under the Influence of Jesus: The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ.