The New Evangelization…the Gospel of “Nice”?
This was the homily I heard recently while attending Mass out of town. We are called to evangelize, so go out into the world…and be nice?
Searching through Scripture, particularly the Gospels, I found no real calling to “be nice”. St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians references nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23)…but “nice” isn’t one of them.
Evangelizing should be done with a spirit of charity no doubt. The gospel message (literally, the good news) should be shared in a spirit of love, delivered with gentleness and kindness. All of these are indeed fruits of the Holy Spirit. However, they are NOT the good news. The message we are called to share with others is actually not a what but a who: Jesus Christ.
By definition, to be nice is to be “pleasing and agreeable in nature”. A nice sentiment and in itself not bad. Incomplete? Absolutely.
In a culture that is more stridently rejecting God, the natural law and the Catholic Church, evangelization requires a bit more than a smile and a pleasing and agreeable nature.
In this current era when so many “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20), evangelization of the culture requires martyrs, not “nice” people. Remember, martyrdom isn’t only giving our life in witness to the faith; it can also be the loss of friends, prestige or material comfort as a result of standing up for our beliefs.
Unfortunately, our current society tells us that the worse thing you could do is make someone uncomfortable through evangelizing them. Intolerance is viewed by the secular society as the great evil. Sharing your faith and the gospel is viewed as being disagreeable and uncouth. Religious “extremism” has now been extended by some in our own government to describe evangelical Catholics. So be it. Wear that tag as a badge of honor!
We now see with perfect clarity that, even when shared in a spirit of charity and a genuine concern for saving souls, the Gospel Truth is an inconvenient truth for many.
The widespread and deep-rooted nature of sin within our culture of death requires a courageous and bold witness. Not someone trying to be “pleasing and agreeable”.
Clergy and laity alike must speak out against such evils as contraception, abortion, the redefinition of traditional marriage and widespread cohabitation just to name a few cultural ills. As members of the Church Militant being “nice” will not suffice. Speaking the Truth, with charity and clarity, is what the New Evangelization requires.
If you want to understand the true cost of discipleship, read the tenth chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Our Lord Himself tells us:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. (Matthew 10:34)