St. Matthew Parish in Winter Haven recently invited renowned speaker and author, Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers to discuss our call to “Make Disciples” in a 4-day conference, June 9-13. The EWTN and Mater Dei Radio host makes appearances nationwide, helping the faithful become the evangelists and witnesses of faith.
Listen to a Faith Fit Special Presentation featuring Deacon Burke-Sivers as he explains how, once Jesus has your heart, you can’t help but share it with everyone you meet.
During the first evening presentation, he spoke to youth and young adults about being disciples in today’s world. The other three days covered becoming a disciple, being and living as a disciple, and finally how to go out and make disciples.
Deacon Burke-Sivers noted Catholics often feel uncomfortable evangelizing because they confuse evangelization with proselytization. “Proselytization is when you are almost forcing someone to convert to your faith,” he explained. “Whereas evangelization is simply sharing the faith and love, sharing our belief in Jesus Christ as the savior of the world with everyone we meet. And the primary way of evangelization is by how we live. Those of us who are baptized share in Christ’s life, death and resurrection, which means we also share in His mission.”
He likened it to being in a romantic relationship with someone you care for deeply and not wanting to share it. “If we are in love with Jesus and in love with our faith like we say we are, don’t we want to share it with everyone we meet, to let everybody know the joy of the encounter that we have with this person?” He believes that kind of evangelization will be the “impetus for reconciliation, conversion and for healing in our world today.”
Encouraging the faithful to be fearless, he acknowledged, “It’s not about how much you know in your head, but how much you know in your heart.” He recalled his experience with a woman who inquired about his love of the rosary. “Your love for the Church was always inspiring,” she shared when she returned to the Church years later.
However, knowledge is helpful and necessary for growth. He noted he travels 180,000 miles per year and is constantly working to strengthen his faith. Deacon Burke-Sivers encouraged those gathered to listen to podcasts, read books and become involved in studies that will further their relationship with Christ and deepen their spiritual journey.
“Effective evangelization is meeting someone where they are with the goal of, not winning an argument, but asking ourselves, how can I get this person to listen to more of what I have to say?” he said. He concluded noting how the Eucharist empowers us and then we are sent forth at the end of Mass into mission fields. The priest is echoing Matthew 28, 19, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – June 13, 2018