THIS is a big challenge to anyone who takes his duty of helping in the evangelization of people seriously. He has to convey the highly spiritual and supernatural doctrines of our Christian faith in such a way that these doctrines are understood, appreciated, loved and lived by the people.
Given the immense diversity of people in terms of backgrounds, intellectual levels, let alone, in spiritual and moral life, anyone who has to evangelize should really have to count on a deep mastery of the subject, a wide variety of styles, and a keen sense of knowing how the people are.
But, really, before anything else, he has to count on the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit to whom he should first pray, asking for help and enlightenment. With the Holy Spirit, he can speak and evangelize in ways that are beyond his human capabilities, no matter how developed these human powers are.
With the Holy Spirit, whatever effort he makes, which will always be inadequate, we can manage to touch the hearts of the people. We should never forget that in this business of evangelization, it is the Holy Spirit who is the prime mover. The evangelizers are just human instruments who are effective only to the extent that they are vitally united with the Holy Spirit.
This does not mean that the evangelizer is spared of his duty to study things well and to learn the fine art of adaptation to all kinds of people. That’s because it’s only when he does his part that he can be an effective and faithful instrument of the Holy Spirit in the act of evangelization.
The implications of this condition are indeed tremendous. For one, the evangelizer really has to study the doctrines so well as to incarnate those doctrines in himself. Hardly anything is more put-offish to the people than when the people feel they are just given a lecture, a disembodied intellectual exercise.
In this regard, one should distinguish among simply being a performer, an actor and being a true minister who would faithfully personify Christ in his own way. He actually does not need to be a consecrated person to personify Christ. To be credible, he just has to be consistent to his Christian identity and to what he is conveying.
Otherwise, he can get the accusation Christ hurled once on some false teachers: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Mt 23, 2-3)
Besides, the evangelizer should really make the effort to know the people well, so that as much as possible he can be on the same wavelength when he evangelizes the people and so that he more or less can speak the same language of the people.
In this, some knowledge of psychology, people’s culture, temper of the times would be very helpful. What is more, it would be very advisable that the evangelizer spend time with the people to such an extent that he can identify himself as one of them or as intimately related to them. As. Pope Francis once said, the shepherd has to have the smell of the sheep that he tends.
Again, all these are possible if one is vitally united to the Holy Spirit, to the spirit of Christ. He can personify what St. Paul once said about how we should be: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor 9, 22)
To be sure, to able to adapt to everyone’s mentality in evangelizing is something that will require a lifelong process of study and deepening in one’s spiritual life./PN