2019-10-20 Father Francois Beyrouti's Homily: "Don’t Evangelize Before Doing This."
This is a link to the homily for Sunday, October 20, 2019.
I've also included below the written homily and the readings.
Don’t Evangelize Before Doing This.
Sunday, October 20, 2019 homily by Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D./D.Th.
2 Corinthians 11:31-12:10. Luke 8:27-39.
Sixth Sunday after the Feast of the Holy Cross.
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The word evangelization is a very important word for both Catholics and Protestants.
After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples and said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt. 28:18-20).
After this, the disciples went in different directions to preach the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Today, the Catholic Church continues to fulfil Jesus’s command to go out to (1) Make disciples of all the nations, (2) Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, (3) Teach all that Jesus commanded us, and (4) To remind us that is us with us always.
Part of spreading the Good News is translating the Bible. The Bible is the most produced, read, and translated book in the history of the world. The entire Bible has now been translated into 683 languages, the New Testament has been translated into an additional 1,534 languages and Bible portions or stories into 1,133 other languages. Thus at least some portion of the Bible has been translated into 3,350 languages. This shows that Catholics and Protestants have taken the word evangelization very seriously.
The word evangelization conjures up images of missionaries who travel to other countries, television preachers, or Jehovah Witnesses who knock on your door.
However, evangelization is not limited to knocking on someone’s door and it is not for a few. Evangelization is for every single one of us because the heart of evangelization is for us to grow in our faith and to share the joy of knowing and loving Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 3:15, we read “In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
Therefore, the heart of evangelization is for us to become disciples through prayer and study, and to make disciples through outreach and witness. It is important to see that the first step of evangelization is for us to become disciples. Evangelization is not just talking about Christ; it is first about becoming Christ-like.
Many parts of the Bible give us great examples of the stages and many aspects of evangelization. In today’s Gospel Jesus meets a man “who had demons” (Luke 8:27). Jesus then commands “the unclean spirit to come out of the man” (:29). The Gospel focuses on the radical change that took place in the man’s life as a result of his encounter with Jesus. Before he met Jesus, the man had demons, wore no clothes, lived among the tombs (:27), was seized by an unclean spirit, kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters (:29).
After Jesus healed the man, the Gospel tell us: “Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind” (:35).
Jesus heals the man and then tells him to evangelize, that is to share the good news. “The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying,  ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:38-39).
Jesus tells the man to evangelize, but not before the man is healed. We should all evangelize, but we cannot evangelize if we have not been evangelized. We cannot make disciples if we are not disciples.
There is a very important event that took place before the man’s healing and before he began to tell everyone how he was healed. “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him” (:28). The man fell down before Jesus to show Jesus that he was Jesus’s disciple.
Jesus tells us to make disciples, baptize, and teach, but He also tells us to observe all he commanded and know that He is always with us. We cannot give what we don’t have. We are all commanded by Jesus to share our faith, but we are first invited to grow in our faith. Our message loses its authenticity if it is not first real in our life.
When we discuss our faith with those of other religions or those of no religion, we can focus on the teachings and miracles of Jesus. As a historic figure, Jesus is one of the most fascinating. Someone asked Larry King: “If you were able to interview anyone who has ever lived, who would it be?” He said: “I wish I could interview Jesus.”
We can even focus on the great Catholic contributions to world history like medicine, education, healthcare, and human rights. These are all good, but the first step to evangelization is what Jesus has done in your life. Share what you know and share who you have become as a result of your faith.
Evangelization starts with us when we commit to know Christ, commit to a daily discipline of prayer and reading, commit to the way of Christ, commit to the joys and suffering of Christ, and commit to share the joy in our hearts. If we are not committed to know Christ, then we cannot share Christ.
That is why in today’s reading, Saint Paul says “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Saint Paul focuses on becoming a disciple before making disciples.
We are all called to evangelize, but cannot do it effectively if we have not been evangelized. We mature in our faith when we are able to share the love of Christ, but what always precedes is a commitment to the joyful and difficult daily journey of being a humble disciple.
Epistle and Gospel Readings:
Epistle: 19th Sunday after Pentecost. 2 Corinthians 11:31-12-10.
A Reading from the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians.
BRETHREN, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever, knows that I do not lie. In Damascus, the Governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to arrest me, but I was lowered in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands. (12: 1) It is not fitting for me to boast: but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I do not know, or out of the body, I do not know: God knows) was caught up into paradise and heard secret sayings that man may not repeat. Of such a man I will boast; but of myself I will glory in nothing except my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast, I shall not be foolish, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I give up, lest any man have an idea of me beyond what he sees in me or hears from me. And lest the greatness of the revelation puff me up, there was given to me a thorn for the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me. Concerning this, I begged the Lord three times that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for strength is made perfect in weakness.” Gladly, then, will I glory in my weaknesses, that the strength of Christ may dwell in me.
Gospel: Luke 8:27-39. 6th Sunday After the Holy Cross.
At that time when Jesus came to the country of the Gerasenes there met Him a certain man who for a long time was possessed by a devil, and wore no clothes, and lived in the tombs, not in a house. And when he saw Jesus, he fell down before Him, and crying out with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I pray Thee, do not torment me.” For he was charging the unclean spirit to go forth from the man. For many times it had laid hold of him; and he was bound with chains and fetters, and kept under guard, but he would break the bonds asunder, and be driven by the devil into the deserts. And Jesus asked him, saying, “What is thy name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many devils had entered into him. And they entreated Him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was there, feeding on the mountainside. And they kept entreating Him to give them leave to enter into them. And He gave them leave. And the devils came out from the man and entered into the swine; and the herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and were drowned. And when the swineherds saw what had happened, they fled and reported it in the town and in the country; and people came out to see what had happened. And they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the devils had gone out sitting at His feet, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. And those also who had seen it reported to them how he had been saved from Legion. And all the people of the Gerasene district besought Him to depart from them; for they were seized with great fear. And He got into a boat and went back. But the man from whom the devils had gone out prayed Him that he might remain with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to thy house, and tell all that God has done for thee.” And he departed, proclaiming throughout the whole town all that Jesus had done for him.
Father François Beyrouti, Ph.D./D.Th.
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
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