A recent report claims that U.S. companies spent $15 million in 2007 creatin
, promoting and distributing widgets. These days, widgets are the rage on websites and blogs. Widgets were once small devices, as a knob or a switch whose name could not be recalled or simply was not known. Not today. Widgets are much more prestigious and costly. A “widget” is now a tool that can personalize a blog and deliver information. It is a new tool that can be used as an advertising delivery system. A widget can be an attractive way to advertise on small websites.
Because of the use of the internet and globalization, marketing keeps changing. Almost every day, new ways are being developed to appeal to customers, to share information and to capture a place in the market. In such a world, there is a need also to make known and to deliver to others the saving truth of the Gospel in such a way that it captures people’s attention, moves their hearts and leads them to faith. There is an urgent need for a new thrust in evangelization.
On January 22, 1999, at the beginning of his visit to Mexico, Pope John Paul II issued his Apostolic Letter
Ecclesia in America
he Evangelization of America
). The Pope wrote: “... the mission of evangelization today calls for a new program which can be defined overall as a new evangelization.” The expression ‘new evangelization’ was not new. It had already been popularized in Pope Paul VI’s apostolic exhortation
On Evangelization in the Modern World
Our contemporary world presents us with new challenges. Recently, Europe would not even acknowledge its Christian roots in the European Constitution. In this, radical secularism triumphed over history and truth. Certainly, we are not in the same cultural state as Europe. A recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll reported that at least 50% of Americans call themselves “religious” and an additional 33% call themselves “spiritual.” We have not repudiated our religious heritage. Nonetheless, we still face the attempt on the part of some to ban religious symbols from the public place in our country.
Today the discoveries of science and technology open new possibilities for human development. Yet, when uprooted from a moral context, they exalt reason to the level of self-destructive autonomy. Relativism ignores the objective order of truth and extols the tolerance of all convictions as equal truths.
Our world, with all its challenges, confronts us daily with the basic question of how we are to live our life. Our life is a question. The Gospel is the answer. It is the mission of the Church to make that answer intelligible and accessible to our generation. This is why both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II called for a “great re-launching” of evangelization. We live in a time that calls for a new enthusiasm that proclaims Jesus and his Gospel in new ways. As advertisers determined to sell their products turn to widgets, we need to use whatever is good, useful and new to help others interface with Jesus.
We cannot be content to look at our world and rest secure. Many have not heard of Christ. Some who have heard have not understood his Gospel and are not active members of the Church. The wedding feast is not yet full.
We know that God “wants all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:3-6). As Jesus gave himself to the mission of inviting others into the embrace of God’s love, we give ourselves to welcoming others to the Church. In the new evangelization, we surrender to the mystery of the mustard seed. We know that God will give the growth (cf. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,
Address to Catechists and Religion Teachers
, Jubilee of Catechists, December 12, 2000). The times are ready for the new evangelization. Are we?
Other articles on Evangelization to follow.