How many here have smart phones? iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, HTCs?
How many use the “apps” on them? Calendars? Address books? Angry Birds? How many have the Facebook app?
Okay, here’s what I want you to do: take out your phones – go ahead; open up your Facebook app – I’m serious; go to your newsfeed or status; touch the “Check in” button and locate “St. Luke’s Catholic Church”; check in now; when it prompts you, please type – yes, I mean it! – type, “He is Risen!” Now, check in.
You just became evangelists!
This is our call as Christians – all of us, not just priests, deacons or bishops; not the pope; not “professional church people”; all of us. There’s no getting around it – especially if we have had a real encounter with Jesus and have had our lives transformed by a real relationship with Him.
The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s pointed to this fact when it spoke of the mission of the laity in the world (that’s you!).
Bishops, pastors of parishes, and other priests of both branches of the clergy should keep in mind that the right and duty to exercise this apostolate is common to all the faithful, both clergy and laity, and that the laity also have their own roles in building up the Church. For this reason they should work fraternally with the laity in and for the Church and take special care of the lay persons in these apostolic works” (AA, 25).
We are in this together. Today, as we gather to commemorate the Resurrection of the Lord, we are reminded that we have the duty to proclaim that Good News to everyone – just like the first disciples who went out from that empty tomb.
The effects of this evangelization are immense, even when only a few are doing it. St. Paul knew this when he wrote, "Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?”
But, if we are going to effectively evangelize we must first be touched by the joy of the Resurrection. This is the joy of the Gospel – the joy of every Christian. People who are joyful cannot contain that joy; they have to share it; it’s contagious. It’s the same experience that we see when we watch the Holy Father. It’s the experience of those disciples at the tomb in the Gospel today. “They both ran,” John tells us. There is excitement for them over the possibility that Mary was right – that Jesus was not in the tomb and He had risen as He promised. On getting there and seeing what they saw, they saw and believed.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus is risen! Just as He said, He is risen! This is the best news ever related in history, and we share that Good News every time we recognize that the Lord, Whom we follow, Whose disciples we are, is alive and working through His Church – through us. You have evangelized today by simply making a statement on Facebook. But those who did so did it because I led you through that exercise. Evangelization is an activity of the Church – it is the activity of the Church, and it begins for each one of us not with a text message or Facebook status, but with a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
Jesus changed the lives of His disciples, and He has changed the lives of Christians ever since. Has He changed your life? Is that news worth sharing? Is that what brought you here? Is it what you will take with you when you go?
Pope Francis has encouraged all Christians to take up their role as evangelizers. This is an Easter activity – not because we only do it on Easter, but because it flows from the power of the Resurrection. Here’s what Francis says about it:
Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power, which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew; it rises transformed through the storms of history. Values always tend to reappear under new guises, and human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power (EG, 276).
“Instruments of that power.” Can you feel it? You are an instrument of the power of the Resurrection because you share in Jesus’ life through Baptism. You will feel that power any time you speak of Christ’s effect on your life – any time you tell someone else how God works His good will in your world.
When the disciples experienced the Resurrection, the first thing they had to do was share it – two thousand years before Facebook, they blew up their social networks to let others know that Good News. Mary shared it with the other Apostles; Peter shared it with the crowd that gathered to hear him; Paul took it to the ends of the earth; and we are called to share that News as well.
“He is risen!”
Now, that status is better than a selfie!