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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus declares his mission: “I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he continues to pursue his mission among us in our efforts to do the work of evangelization.

Do we need evangelization? The statistics couldn’t be clearer. Did you know that the fastest-growing category in polls of religious affiliation is “none”? And did you know that there are far more “nones” than Catholics in this country?

So, Catholics cannot avoid the demand of evangelization, proclaiming the faith. Vatican II couldn’t be clearer on this score, seeing the Church itself as nothing but a vehicle for evangelization: it’s not so much the case that the Church has a mission, but rather that a mission has the Church.

St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II made this idea central to their teaching. In fact, John Paul famously called for a New Evangelization. Bringing people to Christ is not one work among many; rather, it is the central work of the Church, that around which everything else that we do revolves.