The Bible is, at its heart, a love story, and Easter reveals the depth of God’s love for us. Within Easter rests the profound truth of our faith: Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and was buried, and rose again on the third day. He died and rose for each one of us. He died and rose because he loves us. This love compels us to shout, “I have seen the Lord!” just as Mary Magdalene did when she saw Jesus risen from the dead. We too can be witnesses of the Resurrection just as Mary Magdalene, and not just on Easter morning but every day.
The Easter season is the perfect time for us to evangelize. Yet, despite the emphasis on evangelization from Pope Paul VI to Pope Francis, many Catholics might be intimidated by the word evangelization, and even more Catholics might be scared to identify themselves as evangelists. We can begin by getting comfortable with the idea of sharing our faith, particularly outside of the parish.
Evangelization aims at transforming hearts (interior change) and the world (external change). Too often, people think that door-to-door evangelization or standing on street corners are the only ways we can evangelize. But there are many ways that we, as Catholics, can evangelize, especially during the Easter season. Here are some simple ways.
1. Read the Acts of the Apostles.
If you are feeling tired and weary in your spiritual life or if your prayer life has become routine, try reading the Acts of the Apostles from Easter to Pentecost. Immerse yourself in the excitement of the disciples as they responded to Jesus’ mission to be his witnesses “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts of the Apostles 1:8). Imagine being a part of that early community and witnessing the beginning of the Church, with all its difficult and messy relationships. Do this with a friend or family member, and discuss the insights that come.
2. Receive more grace during Mass.
During the Easter season, set aside time to prepare for Mass by reflecting on the upcoming readings ahead of time. Enter into Mass with a heart filled with gratitude and joy, and ask for the grace of one new insight that the Lord wants for you. Pay attention to the readings, the homily, and the prayers, making a mental note of any new ideas that come to mind. Share your thoughts with a family member or friend after Mass.
3. Invite someone to Mass.
According to Lifeway Research, 51 percent of unchurched Americans say a personal invitation from a friend or family member would be most effective in getting them to visit a local church. It isn’t easy to come to Mass, particularly if one has been away for some time. Invite a friend to come with you and your family. An invitation can be as simple as follows: “Our family always looks forward to Easter Sunday. I remember going as a child and loving the music and the sense of hope all around me. Our family would love for you to come with us. We are going to the 10:30 Mass at St. John Parish on Easter Sunday; you are welcome to come with us and for lunch afterwards. If you need a ride, let me know!”
Obviously, adjustments may need to be made for pandemic realities. If an invitation to in-person services is unrealistic at this time, share a link to your church’s Mass livestream. Then reach out with an invitation to attend in person when practical.
4. Share the love.
At the heart of Easter is joy. As St. John Paul II said, “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!” In thinking about your parish community, is there someone in need of a little extra joy? Has someone lost a loved one? Is somebody struggling with ill health and could use a spark of joy? Cultivate a new friendship (or rekindle an old one) by making a meal, sending a personal note or card, or otherwise reaching out to let people know that they are loved.
Scripture urges us to be people who reveal the joy of the risen Lord and share him with others. During Lent we die unto ourselves and rise again with Christ on Easter. We are given a fresh start that helps us see the world through the fresh eyes of love.
How does the joy of Easter give you a new perspective? How do you share the joy of Easter with others?