Day 34 of 40: Several times a year, maybe even more than that, the gospel reading for Sunday morning has an evangelistic message. In addition to that, every baptism is a reading of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). How often does your parish hear a homily about evangelism when there is an evangelistic gospel reading?
This may be one of the best ways to encourage evangelism in your parish. Let’s visit several gospel readings which can be used for this purpose: Nativity, the story of Nathanael and Philip, before, during, and after Ascension, Palm Sunday, Pascha, and Holy Week.
We need to communicate to the faithful that Orthodoxy is evangelism. When we read the book of Acts, we seen an entire book of the Bible dedicated to evangelism and fulfilling the last commandment of Jesus, also known as The Great Commission. We especially see evangelism as a primary mission of the church for the first three hundred years, when it was a faith to die for. The Orthodox Church has always been a missionary church.
The Great Commission has three parts and all three need to be preached on throughout the year. The first part is to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18). Making disciples could also be described as “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Next, people are baptized “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This is the formal ritual of people joining the visible body of Christ. Third, the people must be taught to “observe all things I (Jesus) have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Many of us are skipping the first and third parts of the Great Commission and focusing solely on number two. Two is vital, but so are one and three.
Are you ready to have more evangelistic homilies at your parish?