.- Our evangelization work must be motivated by a relationship of love with Jesus, an Australian bishop told a group of young English-speaking pilgrims at World Youth Day.
“We need to invite people into a relationship with Jesus Christ and allow them to discover,” said Bishop D. Eugene Hurley of Darwin, Australia on July 26.
The bishop was among the English-speaking catechists at World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Held July 24-26, the catechesis sessions allow pilgrims to be divided into smaller groups by language in order to hear a formation talk by a bishop, participate in a question-and-answer period and have the opportunity for prayer, song, Mass and confession.
Bishop Hurley observed that it is rare to have the “experience of being totally and absolutely at home” in this world.
“It's a wonderful and extraordinary gift to be at home with God,” he said.
Being at home requires the recognition that you are loved, he continued, pointing to his father as an example in his own life of “an extraordinary expression of unconditional love.”
Experiencing love is an important part of evangelization, the bishop told the pilgrims.
“I think that if we're really going to be missionaries, we've got to have in our own life this deep and abiding conviction that God loves me.”
The personal conviction that we are individually loved by an Almighty God is what drives our missionary activity and keeps it from being empty, he said.
If we are truly going to be missionaries in this world, “we're not just going out for the fun of it,” Bishop Hurley said, noting that trying to talk about Jesus without having first encountered him is “not going to work.”
Rather, he explained, we need to fall in love with Christ. When we do, evangelization becomes not a duty, but a joy, and we are eager to share the greatest gift in our lives with those we meet.
The bishop recalled Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. He observed that Jesus began a relationship with the woman “slowly and gently,” in an attitude of love, and it led her to return home and witness, calling other people to come and see.
In the same way, our faith should be open and inviting, not a mere “doctrinal thesis” that sits on a shelf, collecting dust, he said. To be a missionary means being open to the love of God and sharing that love with others.
As an example, Bishop Hurley pointed to people in RCIA, preparing to become Catholic. He said that when he talks to these people about why they initially considered the Catholic Church, “almost without exception, it's become someone asked them.”