Dear friends in Christ:
You have probably heard the saying at Mass, “Last words are lasting words!” Among the last words that Jesus spoke before he ascended into heaven was his command that we ‘Go make disciples of all nations and teach and baptize’ (Mt 28.19, 20). By virtue of our baptism and by our love of Jesus, each of us is compelled ‘to go and make disciples’. Each of us is called and commissioned by Jesus to share our faith and to help bring others to salvation in Jesus Christ. Admittedly, sometimes we are so busy just trying to fulfill our daily responsibilities that the idea of ‘doing one more thing,’ much less reaching out to someone else, easily gets pushed to the side as a nice thing to do someday. I am asking you to make “someday” today!
God blesses each of us with his grace so that we might share his love with others. No doubt you know someone who has no church affiliation, or you have a Catholic relative or friend who no longer practices the faith. You may even know someone who is not Catholic or even Christian and has serious questions about the Catholic faith. Perhaps you know someone who is seeking answers to life’s many questions. Maybe you know someone who is seeking a deeper relationship with God. But what can you do?
The first and most important thing to do is to pray. Pray for guidance, courage and patience for yourself and pray for faith, acceptance and courage for your friend or relative. The second most important thing to do in making “someday” today is to prepare. Notice in the gospels that Jesus did not send the apostles and disciples out to evangelize until after they had spent some time, with him. We don’t have to know everything and we certainly don’t have to know all of the answers, but we should know which way to point! Familiarize yourself with the basic teachings of our faith in the Creed and the Catechism. Invest some time and reward yourself by participating in an adult formation program or by serving in one of the ministries of the parish (youth or adult formation, liturgy, social services, parish life). The third and most crucial ingredient in making “someday” today is to act! All of us are familiar with the paralysis of analysis, the temptation to keep postponing real action until we are perfectly ready and all conditions are perfect. If we wait to act until everything is totally perfect, that day will be a long time coming! The fact is we do not have to wait until everything is perfect. After we have prayed and prepared, we need to act. We need to actually invite someone to Mass with us or encourage them to come to an Adult Ed program or enroll their kids in religious education. We need to actually ask the question, “Have you ever thought about becoming a Catholic?” We need to plant the seed, “You would be great Catholic!” or “I think you would find a lot of joy in being a Catholic!” We need to nurture the invitation with God’s grace by giving authentic witness to Jesus in our words and actions. Do not be afraid or ashamed of sharing how much your faith in God and your Catholic faith means to you.
“God has bestowed upon us in Christ every spiritual blessing under the heavens “(Eph 1:3).
The Lord never asks us to do anything that he doesn’t also give us all that we need to accomplish the mission. Trust God. If we do our part, God will certainly do his. As with so many things in life, the work of evangelization is not a one time task. To be effective, we should not be afraid to ask and invite again and again. Of course, we do not want to annoy or insult, but for most us of it takes several attempts before we really hear anything, even for the first time.
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately