ARTICLE – Bringing People to Christ by Inspiring Love and Praise for God

Evangelization lies at the heart of the Church’s mission, as commanded by Christ himself: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). However, evangelization is not merely about conveying information or imposing rules. At its core, evangelization is about inspiring people to love and praise God, for when hearts are filled with love and wonder for the Creator, they naturally desire to draw closer to Him, accept Him and follow His ways.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “God, who creates and conserves all things by his Word, provides men with constant evidence of himself in created realities” (CCC 54). This points to a fundamental truth: God has already provided abundant reasons for humanity to love and praise Him. The role of evangelization, then, is to help people recognize and appreciate these reasons.

In the Psalms, we find countless examples of praise arising from contemplation of God’s works: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). By drawing attention to the beauty, order, and wonder of creation, evangelizers can awaken a sense of awe and gratitude towards the Creator.

Moreover, the greatest reason for loving God is His own love for us. As St. John writes, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ stand as the supreme testament to God’s love. Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, emphasizes this point: The heart of its message will always be the same: the God who revealed his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ (Cf. EG 11).

By proclaiming the Good News of God’s love and salvation in Christ, evangelization provides the most compelling reason for people to turn their hearts toward God. As people come to understand the depth of God’s love and the gift of redemption, they are moved to respond with love and praise.

This approach to evangelization aligns with St. Augustine’s famous words: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” The human heart longs for God, even if unconsciously. Evangelization, then, is not about propagating an intellectual concept, but about awakening people to their deepest desires and showing how these find fulfillment in God.

As people begin to love and praise God, they naturally desire to draw closer to Him. This desire leads to conversion, understood not merely as a change of belief but as a reorientation of one’s entire life towards God. 

This movement towards God brings with it the experience of blessing. As Psalm 34:8 invites, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” The blessings of peace, joy, purpose, and community that come from a life centered on God serve as further reasons for praise and attract others to the faith.

Ultimately, as love for God grows, so does the desire to do His will. Jesus himself said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). However, this obedience is not born of fear or mere duty, but of love and gratitude. It is a natural outgrowth of a heart transformed by God’s love.

In his message for World Mission Day in 2002, Pope John Paul II emphasizes the holistic nature of evangelization: “The Church’s evangelizing mission is essentially the proclamation of the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God, revealed to humanity through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Lord'” (World Mission Day 2002).

This understanding of evangelization as inspiring love and praise for God has profound implications for how it is carried out. It calls for a witness that is joyful and attractive, one that demonstrates the beauty and fulfillment found in a life with God. As Pope Paul VI wrote in Evangelii Nuntiandi, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (EN 41).

It also requires a deep respect for human freedom. The goal is not to coerce, oblige or manipulate, but to present the reasons for faith in a way that allows individuals to respond freely with love. As the Catechism states, “God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.” (CCC 1).

In conclusion, evangelization should primarily focus on revealing the manifold reasons to love and praise God – found in creation, in the person of Christ, and in the experience of the Christian life. As people encounter these reasons and open their hearts to God’s love and infinite mercy, they are naturally drawn into a deeper relationship with Him, experience His blessings, and desire to live according to His will. Such evangelization respects human dignity, appeals to the deepest longings of the human heart, and fulfills Christ’s commission to make disciples of all nations.

Pierre-Alain Giffard, Director of Pastoral Work

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