Evangelization is the reason for the Church's existence. It was the last message of Jesus to the community he formed and a mandate which has from the beginning been primary. The Church is always in mission. Especially today, when as the Pope says, it seems we have lost the sense of ultimate realities and even the meaning of existence itself.
Oct. 23 is Mission Sunday throughout the Catholic World. All of us will hear the Pope's message on this day, and our Catholic papers are devoting space announcing the importance of mission, the sharing of our gift of faith with others. The Catholics of Korea understand this mission, and many are not embarrassed to convey this message to others.
Many parishes take this mandate seriously, providing programs to educate the community, praying for the success of their efforts, printing leaflets to distribute, and even going into the streets to introduce Jesus to those interested. Programs are often set up twice a year to invite candidates to come to a Sunday Mass where the community will acquaint the candidates on what to expect, assigning them to different catechetical classes.
Korean statistics show that about half of the population consider themselves without a religion so the possibilities to evangelize are bright.
There were a number of examples in this week's Catholic papers on what was accomplished by parishes and mission stations. In one of the mission stations, 170 people showed an interest in joining the community. When we consider that it was a small mission station, it is a reason to marvel.
One pastor stressed that in the education of the Christians, it is not the words that are important but our lives; mission is best done by the wordless examples of our lives. A journalist from the paper wanted to visit a parish to write an article for this recent issue but was told not to come. The process of evangelization is not an event to be observed and written about but an inner relationship with those who are intending to join the community.
The lack of concern for the tepid and the diminishing zeal for evangelizing in many parts of the world are regrettable facts. The reason for not desiring to share the gift is possibly a loss of the joy we should have as followers of Jesus or when the experience of Jesus is not an important part of who we are. Whatever the reasons, lack of interest, one writer concluded, is the biggest obstacle to mission in the world today and when lost, is not easily regained.