21 May 2020. Ascension Thursday, cycle A-2020. Acts 1:1-11 + Eph 1:17-23 + Mt 28:16-20

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).

Evangelizing and proselytizing mean different, but like left and right, they work together in conversion.  

Conversion is more of attracting, less of proselytizing, popes Francis and Benedict XVI pointed out.  

To proselytize is to induce someone to convert to one’s religion or political party. This occurs all the time. To evangelize is to preach and to draw interest in one’s doctrine.

Pope Francis, however, wants to separate proselytizing from evangelization since the former offends other religions.

It does offend the perishing, but not those who are saved (cf. 1Cor 1:18-24). Certainly, the one losing the convert is offended, but not the convert.

Proselytizing can be offensive to anyone when mishandled, but St. Paul suggested how to handle it. Avoid foolish and ignorant debates, for they breed quarrels. Be gentle with everyone while teaching. Be tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness. God may grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth (2 Tm 2:23, 24b-25; cf. 2:14-15; Ti 3:9).

St. Peter said attracting and proselytizing go hand in hand. While you suffer because of unrighteousness, always be ready to gently and reverently explain to someone who asks a reason for your hope (cf. 1Pt 3:14-16). Jesus, in His ministry, preached, cajoled, pleaded, rebuked, castigated, threatened, and, naturally, He offended. Of course, He also comforted, and loved. If we observe the same as He commanded, the world would hate us just as it hated Him (cf. Jn 15:18). VSS

Picture credit: Top photo: John Paul II preaches to crowd on IrishCatholic.com. Bottom photo: bibleshare-istock-2.