Sharing Our Faith
In addition to witnessing by the way we live our daily lives, we must explicitly share our faith and invite others to "come and see" Christ for themselves.
Sharing moves beyond witness to explicitly share the reasons that we live out lives the way we do, in the person of Jesus, and the Gospel message of the Kingdom of God and salvation.
We are called to share our faith with three audiences: those who have never heard the Gospel, inactive Christians, and those who are actively practicing Christians. Sharing our faith and being converted ourselves is an ongoing process.
[E]ven the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified - what Peter called always having "your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have" - and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed. The history of the Church, from the discourse of Peter on the morning of Pentecost onwards, has been intermingled and identified with the history of this proclamation. At every new phase of human history, the Church, constantly gripped by the desire to evangelize, has but one preoccupation: whom to send to proclaim the mystery of Jesus? In what way is this mystery to be proclaimed? How can one ensure that it will resound and reach all those who should hear it? This proclamation - kerygma, preaching or catechesis - occupies such an important place in evangelization that it has often become synonymous with it; and yet it is only one aspect of evangelization.
Evangelization in the Modern World, 22
Pope Paul VI
Our plan also asks Catholics to reach out to those who do not belong to a faith community and to invite them to consider the power of the Gospel of Jesus, which the riches of the Catholic Church can bring into their lives. Perhaps this may seem the most difficult of all the tasks evangelization asks of us. Yet if we have once seen the joy of those received into the Church at Easter, if we have ever experienced the growth of those going through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, if we have ever seen someone thrilled with the Gospel for the first time in his or her life, we know that this is, in truth, one of the sweetest gifts of the Spirit.
Go And Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, 48-51
Catholics should continually share the Gospel with those who have no church community and with those who have given up active participation in the Catholic Church, as well as welcoming those seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. People can know they are invited to experience Jesus Christ in our Church only if they are really and effectively asked and if adequate provisions are made for their full participation. We want our Catholic brothers and sisters to effectively ask and to really invite.
Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.
...an apostolate of this kind does not consist only in the witness of one's way of life; a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life. "For the charity of Christ impels us" (2 Cor. 5:14). The words of the Apostle should echo in all hearts, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16).
Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem), 6
Second Vatican Council
We are aware that many Catholics tend to keep their faith to themselves or to manifest it only around other Catholics. Perhaps our heritage as immigrants and our acknowledgment of religious pluralism make us shy in showing forth our faith. Certainly, there has been a decline in the public practice of our faith in recent decades. For many, the fire of faith burns cooler than it should.
Cover image from Pentecost, a painting by El Greco.