It’s the new rage—or haven’t you heard? It’s not in Webster’s Gargantuan, beloved of English majors, that linguistic mammoth, but poorly imitated by those illustrious scientists working on the human genome project. Neither is it a valid search entry at urbandictionary.com. I checked. “Evangelunch,” is your new word of the day, but caution, kids: “Don’t try this at home.”
I was recently hanging out with a few friends on the UIC campus where I am pursuing my graduate studies. They both happen to be missionaries affiliated with the organization FOCUS and were pumped up high with the love of Christ that day—as usual. Choices of action were limited to “let out some pressure,” or “let out some pressure.” Solution: “let out some pressure.”
“Evangelunching” was the concrete pressure-release valve mechanism decided upon that afternoon. It is a response to Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization, and to that call of God which exists within each of our own hearts.
“Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:16). It is the time to preach it from the rooftops” (cf. Mt 10:27). –Blessed John Paul II
Have you climbed on your roof and started preaching to the birds? What about walking down Main St., reciting sermons from St. John Chrysostom? No? Good, because I could recommend a competent psychiatric ward if you have. There’s a time and a place for everything under the sun—perhaps even for rooftop screaming, but we can expect to find most forms of fulfilling Christ’s command to “spread the Gospel” better formatted to context and environment.
If our goal is to share the Good News, then we want to give people something they can relate to. I’ve gone with groups knocking house-to-house multiple times and have accomplished feats even more unusual, but this was the first time I walked into a university cafeteria, sat down next to someone I had never set eyes on before, and started up a conversation with the intention of explicit evangelization. Yes, Christ can be found even in university cafeterias.
Perhaps it’s obvious, yet I find it convenient to press the point again: “Don’t try this at home!” It’s easy to let ourselves off the hook of public evangelization, convincing ourselves that witnessing to Christ before family and friends is enough. However, if we have convinced ourselves of this, and if we haven’t found it necessary to locate a new pressure-release valve for some time past, then our pressure hasn’t been increasing and we aren’t “pumped up” enough; perhaps our hearts are not yet “burning within us.” (Lk 24: 32) It’s time to get creative, discovering new ways to introduce others to Christ. “Go out into streets; go out into the squares. Be not afraid.”