What is it, really, that changes them? How does it work?
The evangelization dynamic is really very simple, but probably not very well understood. The Magisterium understands it. This is evident from official statements and decrees. But the rank and file of the Church does not seem to be clear about it at all.
Evangelization, as I have observed it, is a three-step process.
- Step one is the presentation of the gospel challenge. Basically, Jesus invites us to follow him, to surrender all to him, to make him Lord of our lives. That comes first.
- The hearers respond, hopefully in the affirmative. They decide to accept the invitation. They claim the Lordship of Jesus over their lives.
- God acts. He stirs up the holy Spirit in the souls of the baptized (or gives the Spirit to the unbaptized), and they begin to undergo a significant transformation in their lives.
How does it happen? God makes it happen. It is the third step of the process that makes the difference. And it is this third step that most people in the Church simply do not understand. It cuts across the commonly held assumption that Jesus has left the Church on its won, that he was only kidding when he said he would always be with us. And it contradicts the prevailing assumption that God is remote, that he perhaps is disinclined to be a spectator in our lives rather than a participant.