The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself. She is the community of believers, the community of hope lived and communicated, the community of brotherly love, and she needs to listen unceasingly to what she must believe, to her reasons for hoping, to the new commandment of love. She is the People of God immersed in the world, and often tempted by idols, and she always needs to hear the proclamation of the "mighty works of God" which converted her to the Lord; she always needs to be called together afresh by Him and reunited. In brief, this means that she has a constant need of being evangelized, if she wishes to retain freshness, vigor and strength in order to proclaim the Gospel. The Second Vatican Council recalled  and the 1974 Synod vigorously took up again this theme of the Church which is evangelized by constant conversion and renewal, in order to evangelize the world with credibility.
Each year as the church celebrates the season of Lent leading up to the glory of Christ’s Resurrection it is important for us to remember this teaching of Pope Paul VI. Lent calls us to remember that we as church and as individuals we are in a constant need of conversion and renewal. On Ash Wednesday as ashes are placed on our heads as a sign of repentance and renewal, the words are spoken, “Repent and believe in the Gospel”. Repentance is always the starting point for conversion of our hearts to take place. It is an acknowledgement that at times we have fallen to the idols of this world and haven’t been faithful to Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repentance alone can still leave our hearts incapable of being as loving as Jesus calls us to be. We also need to recognize our powerlessness to change ourselves and our need for the power, love and grace of God to change our hearts and set us on the right path.
Believe in the Gospel, believe in the Good News! That is the second part of what we are called to as we receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. We are called to believe that out of God’s love for us He sent his Son to die on the cross to take away our sins, to give us a new beginning, a fresh start to live our life in God’s love! In Lent we are called to remember what Jesus did for us as he died on the cross as Our Savior. Belief in the Gospel calls us to acknowledge that Jesus is the Savior of the World and our personal Savior as well. He has taken away our sins through His victory on the cross to help us be New Creations in His love. But, the Good News does not stop there! Jesus continues to pray for us at the right hand of God the Father that we be One with Him through the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus and the Father continue to pour down upon us who belief in Him. A gift that gives us the power, love and grace of God to change our hearts and to allow constant conversion and renewal to take place in our lives. We only need to believe and to invite God to come and dwell with us!
As we journey through Lent may we open our hearts and lives to God’s love that we may live always as the People of God and as evangelizers to one another and to the world.
Have a blessed and joyful Lent, Father Bill