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  My Witness

Vol. 3, No. 2, April, 1998

Pope John Paul II: On the Need for Disciples
by Sr. Angeline Bukowiecki, S.N.C.

Sister Angeline Pope John Paul II continues his call to the Church for a new evangelization, new in its fervor, expression, and methods. In his various homilies and addresses, he calls us to become disciples being explicitly attached to the person of Jesus Christ: following in his footsteps, giving witness to him by our lifestyle, and proclaiming him through the words we speak. He goes on to speak of the need for youth to be evangelized and for youth to become evangelizers.

A. Disciples For Evangelization

  • "Put very simply, giving witness to Christ . . . means to live in accordance with the Gospel [command]: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul; you shall love your neighbor as yourself"' (World Youth Day, August 19, 1989 at Santiago de Compostela).

  • "Dearest ones . . . . do not be afraid to recognize [Christ] as Lord and Savior and follow him faithfully as disciples. Thus will you become "light" for your brothers and sisters" (Homily at Roman Parish of John Chyrsostom, March 25, 1990)

  • "Do everything possible to live [the Good News of salvation] to the fullest, and to share it with others. This is the work of evangelization, the great mission which Christ entrusted to the first Apostles and now entrusts to you. The task [of evangelization] is to live the Gospel ever more perfectly and fully, so that the weak, the alienated and the skeptical, rather than turning from Christ, might embrace him and his gift of salvation as well" (Homily at the Cathedral of Gozo, Malta, June 4, 1990).

  • "For anyone committed to it, the new evangelization entails a return to the lifestyle preached by Christ" (To the Religious and Priests of Vicenza, Italy, September 8, 1991).

  • "The new evangelization needs new witnesses . . . people who have experienced an area of change in their life because of their contact with Jesus Christ, and who are capable of passing on that experience to others" (Valladolid-Valencia, Spain, September 23, 1991).

  • "Proclaiming Christ means above all giving witness to him with one's own life. It is the simplest form of preaching the Gospel and the most effective way available to you . . . .The world today has special need of believable witnesses" (Message for World Youth Day, released November 30, 1991).

  • "We need living Christian communities, rich in communion and a missionary fervor that necessarily flows into all areas of human activity through witness given by authentic disciples of Christ" (St Crispen of Viterbo Homily, March 28, 1993).

  • "'Disciples' . . . are not only those who believe in Jesus but those who follow him and will to follow his teachings as those of the Master" (General Audience, March 31, 1993).

May the Lord Jesus create in each one of us the desire and the will to become his disciples, taking up the Gospel and proclaiming it to the world in every situation, carrying it out with great courage, boldness, and much love.

B. Youth Evangelized and Youth Evangelizers

Pope John Paul I I continues his call for a new evangelization, new in its fervor, expression, and methods, directing it now to the young people who are in need of being evangelized and who in turn are to become evangelizers.

  • "The Church has positive, decisive words to offer to young people. Going right to the heart of the Christian message, she can and must announce the unprecedented "news" of Jesus, the Word of God, who became man to offer mankind the possibility to live as God's children in this world" (Ad Limina Visit, Argentinian Bishops, February 16, 1991).

  • "In what new way can we express for young people the radical message of the Gospel, to help them see that it alone offers the answers that can fully satisfy their restless hearets" (Ad Limina Visit, Bishops of Piedmont Region, Italy, February 16, 1991).

  • "We must not be afraid to confront young people with the transforming ideals that the Gospel lays before them" (Ad Limina Visit, Argentinian Bishops, February 16, 1991).

  • "Effective evangelization presupposes the efforts of young people capable of courageously witnessing to their peers" (Ad Limina Vist, Bishops from Tuscan Region, March 9, 1991).

  • "What significance does being sent into 'the whole world have for you?' Jesus once spoke those words to the Twelve Apostles, and now the Pope speaks them to young people everywhere" (Address to the Youth of Capua, Italy, May 24, 1992).

  • "We are approaching the Third Millennium! For this reason, dear young people, I take the occasion today of again calling you to be apostles of a new evangelization, builders of the civilization of love" (To the Youth of Argentina, Buenos Aires, April 11, 1987).

  • "Young men and women should be actively involved in evangelization and feel that they have an important role to play in the renewal of society" (Ad Limina Visit, Bishops of Abruzzi and Molise Regions, Italy, April 12, 1991).

  • "Dear boys and girls, be missionaries of life. Follow Christ and consecrate yourselves to his service wherever he calls you, and in whatever conditions he has placed you. With your family and in your youth clubs, where you work or take leisure, among your friends and in the groups and associations to which you belong: these are the special places for your own particular mission in the new evangelization" (To the Youth of Italy, June 20, 1992).

We ask the Lord Jesus to send evangelizers to our young people, that they may be brought into a personal relationship with Jesus and receive his Holy Spirit anew. May they, in their turn, become evangelizers bringing other youth to Jesus.

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