"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
You may have notice from time to time, while watching TV, usually a live event where a crowd is gathered, someone in the back ground hold up a sign with this written on it, "John 3:16". It refers of course to this text of scripture, this same text which is chosen as the gospel reading for this feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Someone, at a grass roots level, is taking advantage of the TV exposure to evangelize. One might wonder how effective this effort might be, but if you google just the numbers "3:16" you are taken immediately to the bible passage.
No doubt there are those who consider this as an unwelcome intrusion of another's religious belief into an nonreligious public event. In other words, "... didn't ask, not interested, keep your religion to yourself".
But as Catholics, we are hearing a great deal about the New Evangelization and our vocation to be evangelists in our world today. Clearly, if we are called to be evangelists we are not meant to keep our religious beliefs to our self. So what is expected of us? Matthew ends his gospel account with these words of Jesus, "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.” Mtt 28:19
In some places in the world, people are imposing their religious beliefs on everyone by forcing it upon them, without any choice. Clearly this is wrong and an offence against the God of love. (Now the next time you are bring a protesting child to church with you don't let them use this quote against you, :-)
So the question that arises here is how are we expected to evangelize? Recently I listened to a lecture given by Archbishop Richard Smith, bishop of the diocese of Edmonton and former president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is part of the Catholic Culture series hosted by Salt & Light TV, a recording of which is found on their web site. I have added a link to this talk at the end of this post.
Bishop Smith points out that by virtue of our baptism we are all commissioned to be evangelists. He goes on to explore the way evangelizing works. It has two main components, word and sign, both are necessary. Word alone cannot convey the full message of the Good News, because people may not take from the words we use the same meaning that we intend to communicate. He gives this example. When we use the word joy people often hear pleasure, truth is heard as opinion, conscience is heard as feeling, justice is heard as vengeance, covenant is heard as nonbinding agreement. But when our words are accompanied by a corresponding sign, gesture, personal witness, then what we mean to say is made clear.
I think this is well described by St. Peter when he says, "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence." 1Pt. 3:15. First, people must see it in your life, then your words will have a convincing sign of reference to endorse them. Everyone is entitled to their opinion these days and words are flying like a sand storm. What is lacking is signs of truth to accompany them. The true evangelist must be both sign and word.
I recommend that you listen to Bishop Smith's talk and take time to study it.