As I was doing my personal prayer this morning, I started to reflect on the way we evangelize. It seems that as a whole, Christianity has resorted to shouting about God to the people around them. You have people on street corners yelling angrily about sin, judging everyone who passes by and condemning them to Hell. You have people cornering others so that they can share the Good News with them through the latest gospel tract. I’ve heard people say that they feel forced into listening, like they are being coerced into believing in God.
Don’t get me wrong, I think people need to know that they are sinners. I think that people need to know the there is hope in Christ who came to save the world. But I think we go about it wrong. God doesn’t force us to believe in Him or to love and trust Him. And I don’t think he wants His followers forcing people to either. God shows us His love and through that we come to see that He exists and that He can be trusted. He gains followers by being who He is. And if people continue to reject Him, He lets them, but He never stops loving them. I think what we need to do is to learn how to love again. We need to show people that we truly care about them. When they feel like you’ve taken the time to get to know their story and when they feel like you’ve listened and love them, then they will be more open to what you have to say. And if they still don’t like it, we still need to show them love and compassion, because God never stops showing us love and compassion. We are relational beings, made in the image of God and we need to start bringing people to God through relationship.
Approaching people on the street may sometimes work, but we have a tendency to keep pushing, even when they’ve told us they don’t want to talk to us. We need to learn to walk away, to accept rejection. And shouting on the streets may seem like the only way to reach people in this world where there are so many views being shouted. But that’s just it. Everybody is shouting. The way to reach people is to show that there is something different about you. Something has changed you and that draws people in. Something about the way you live is mysterious and beautiful. And through that people will see that Christ has changed you and He will be glorified. They may even decide that they want this transforming relationship as well.
They will know that we are Christian by our love. Let’s start showing love.
At least if you believe in God and His infinite wisdom. Even if you don’t, you probably understand the importance of having a leader.
With the new pope being introduced today, I can imagine that a lot of my Protestant brothers and sisters are praying for us Catholics to learn that our hope and faith are not in the Pope, praying that we abandon the papacy. They’re right in one way. Our hope and faith is in Christ alone. But it is because of that faith that we love our popes and the papacy. When Christ was about to end his earthly ministry, and was about to ascend to Heaven to take his place at the right hand of his Father, he told Peter to feed his sheep (John 21:17). Christ understood human nature. He, in his wisdom, knew that we would be easily led astray when he was no longer walking among us. So he commissioned Peter to lead us, to represent him and to guide Christ’s sheep. If Christ knew that the Christians who lived only years after his earthly ministry, many who saw him at work firsthand, could be led astray and gave them a leader, why would he not want that leadership to carry on through the ages? It has been nearly 2000 years since Christ walked the earth. It is likely that, since none of us walked with Christ on earth, without a leader to keep us from going astray we would wander far from the path. Without a leader to guide us, there would be countless factions within the christian world. There would be groups claiming that they’ve got it all right and constant divisions. But we all know that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). So it makes sense that the role of leader of the Church would be passed on through the ages.
And Peter did not lead on his own. He had the other apostles to help him. And likewise, we have apostles in our day. They are the cardinals and bishops of the church. Together they help Christ’s sheep stay on the path. They keep us from being led astray and devoured by wolves. But more important than the other apostles, he had the Holy Spirit. This apostolic succession and papacy is not a man-made institution. It was started by Christ and remains guided by the Holy Spirit. The Third Person of the Trinity is involved in the selection of the bishops and the pope just as he was when the apostles replaced Judas (Acts 1:23-26). The method of choosing new apostles may be different, but the guidance of the Holy Spirit remains. He knows what the Church needs and gives it to her. And Christ promised Peter that the gates of Hell would not destroy the Church (Matthew 16:18) and that promise has held. Though there have been times when it seems the wrong man (even a terrible man) has been chosen for the role of leader, the Church is always protected because the Holy Spirit never stops guiding the ones guiding us. No matter who sits in the chair of St. Peter, the teachings of the church will always be in line with the will of God.
My faith was not in Pope Benedict XVI. My faith is not in Pope Francis I. My faith is in the wisdom of Christ and the promises he made to Peter. And so I look to the Pope and the bishops and the Church they lead to keep me from going astray, for they are the chosen representatives of Christ, the King of Kings.
I never used to have a real mission-oriented mind or spirit. But lately, this has changed. I feel a pull in my heart more and more to reach out to those in need and serve them in the Love of Christ. I feel the desire to heal their bodies with my nursing skills and their spirits with the hope of Life Eternal. Sometimes I want to travel to a third world country and serve people in areas where medical technology has not reached and the gospel of Christ is not well-known. Other times I want to stay in this country and serve those in need on our own soil. All I know is that I want to serve. I want to make life a little more bearable for people, or to make dying a little less scary.
On that note, I will now tell you all that I got in the wheelbarrow. I applied to be a St. Joseph worker with the Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Paul. If accepted to this program I will spend a year, starting in August, volunteering full-time with an organization in the Twin Cities that serves people in need, such as uninsured immigrants or victims of abuse. It means putting off my nursing career for a year which is why I was hesitant to apply, but it will teach me so much that I can use in my future career that I know it will be worth it. And I trust that God will provide for me as I give the next year fully to him and his work. This is the first time I’ve taken a real leap of faith that required full dependence on the Lord. It’s scary, but surprisingly peaceful at the same time. The more I think about it, the more excited I am about the possibility of serving the Lord in this way. I’ll let you all know when I find out if I’m accepted or not.
Peace and blessings!
I recently was introduced to the music of Danielle Rose and I was listening to her album called Mysteries. All of the songs are about the different mysteries of the holy rosary. After listening to this song:
I have this incredibly strong desire to know more about Christ’s childhood. What must it have been like for Mary to know that she was responsible for the care of the Son of God? What must it have been like to realize that he was missing from the caravan? Those first 30 years are so mysterious and I feel like if I knew more about Christ’s early life I could relate to his humanity more. I wish could go back in time and live in Nazareth as a neighbor of the holy family.