Editorial: Spirit of joy

Some of the most beautiful words found in the Infancy Narratives — the Gospel passages relating to the birth of Jesus — are proclaimed by the angels. The Angel of the Lord declares to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord” (Lk 2:10-11). Next, a “multitude of the heavenly host” pronounces a refrain so significant that it contributed to the development of a beloved liturgical prayer: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Through their proclamations, these angels are the first, following the birth in Bethlehem, to spread the Good News of the Christ Child who was the Savior of the world. They are the first evangelizers of Christmas. It makes perfect sense. The Greek word euangelion, from which “evangelization” is derived, itself comes from the Greek word angelos, meaning “messenger” or “to announce,” from which we also, of course, get the word “angel.”

Why is this significant for us? Because, particularly at Christmastime when families gather together, we have our own important opportunity to do as the angelos did — to be messengers of the Good News. In this week’s Faith piece (Pages 14-15), it is suggested that an effective way to evangelize those who may have fallen away from the Faith is to tell stories of beautiful witnesses who have inspired us on our own faith journey.

But as critical as that is, we must never forget the significance of our own witness. We are able to introduce people to Jesus by showing the difference he makes in our own lives, an effort that is reflected first and foremost in how we treat those with whom we meet. Evangelization must be relational. It must be lived. As Pope Francis said in September 2015, “to evangelize is not only to convince, it’s to give witness that Jesus Christ is alive … with your flesh, with your life.”

Which brings us back to the angelos. We have only to look to the angels in Luke’s Gospel to discover some key qualities of an evangelist: a spirit of joy, a message of truth, a song of praise and a heart of courage.

In order to properly evangelize, we must have always within us a spirit of joy. We must be lit from within, filled with Gospel zeal and an abiding satisfaction and peace.

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe now in print or digital.

Spreading the Faith means knowing the Faith. We must be well-versed in what the Church teaches and why so we are able to share this message of truth. Truth begets authenticity, and authenticity is key to winning people to Christ.

We can best spread the Good News of Christ by sharing our love for him. With a constant song of praise, we can always be filled with a spirit of gratitude for his many blessings. This love is infectious and appealing, working as a balm to warm others’ hearts to Christ.

It isn’t easy to evangelize. Not only do we have to be prepared for dismissal and even ostracization when it comes to voicing our beliefs, we are, perhaps even more challengingly, faced with the task of working hard to be our best selves. This takes commitment and hearts of courage to chip away at these goals a little each day.

May the blessings of the season be with you this Christmas Day. And may the angels of the Lord always guide you on the path of evangelization.

Editorial Board: Greg Willits, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor-in-chief; Don Clemmer, managing editor