The first model I would propose for evangelization is found in the Gospel account of the Visitation. In Luke 1:39-56, the scripture proclaims how the Blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. This account is a mixture of the profound and sacred with the ordinary and simple. Mary is visiting Elizabeth because she has been told by the Angel Gabriel that Elizabeth will bear a child. Outside of the miraculous manner by which she has received the information, her response is quite natural, and in its simplicity, quite ordinary.
This is the first thing to keep in mind about evangelization. In one sense, bringing the Gospel to others is the natural and normal thing to do. When Jesus Christ becomes a central part of our lives, to know us would naturally be connected to knowing about him whom we love. Also, we should take a lesson from this and apply it to how we are approach others. Our sharing of our love for Christ shouldn’t be forced or contrived. It should flow from simplicity and directness, and it should also be marked by a naturalness which lacks pretension or ostentation.
But methods shouldn’t cloud the heart of the encounter. Mary brings Jesus to Elizabeth.
We should note that she brings Jesus to Elizabeth not in eloquent speech or in complex ideas, but rather she brings Jesus because he dwells within her. I would argue that Mary is the prototype for how we are to receive and nurture Jesus Christ within us. We are called to receive our Lord through the sacraments, and we are called to nurture and meditate on that Divine presence within us.
If we respond to this gift, the Divine presence does not remain separate from who we are. Rather, it transforms us and we begin to radiate with Divine love. St. Josemaria explained how our zeal for the Lord should bare the resemblance of fire. Natural fire seeks to spread and engulfs everything that comes into contact with its heat. The Divine fire of God’s love, the fire that burns within, spreads not by clever manufacturing, but rather through a kind of contagious sanctity which touches lives.
This is how Mary evangelized.
The Divine presence dwelling within her set her cousin Elizabeth on fire with Divine love. Our evangelization must be modeled on this kind of encounter. We must nurture the gift of God’s grace by a deep and fervent relationship with the Lord. Even if we are prevented from spending long hours in prayer due to our responsibilities, we can learn to nurture deep, simple, and genuine love for God and neighbor. We can learn to draw all of our daily activities into God’s triune life by offering our daily sacrifices and joys to him with a glad heart. And when we fall, we can humbly return to him who is with us and whose presence is constantly calling us to reconciliation. We can experience his forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation, and then reenter the world with the confidence of adopted children.
The reality is that God wants us to share his Divine life with the world. We have to learn to open our hearts, receive his love, and then share it with the world.