Good morning everyone… it’s another beautiful day. I want to share with you a discussion that we had this weekend with some young leaders.
It was an interesting discussion because we basically had group split into two: 1) One group would play the part of Christians 2) The second group would play the part of atheists. Each group had to convince the other side that their view was right and the other side was wrong. It was a very interesting discussion and was filled with emotion, brilliant thought and fruitful insight for both sides. At the end of the discussion we wrapped the session by highlighting a very important point, which is:
Most people are not brought to the faith through debate, intellectual discussion or being convinced.
As we talked about it more, we realized that people are brought to belief in Jesus and the Church through a personal experience; either with God directly, or through one of His followers. I reflect on my own spiritual conversion and it is almost entirely due to my cousin’s invitation for me to attend a Catholic charismatic weekend retreat for college students. (Thank you Girlie Luna). If it weren’t for her witness and love for me, I don’t know where I would be today. Her actions of love as a Christian spoke to my heart more than any homily I heard when I was a child. I think Pope Paul VI’s words are very applicable at this point as I remember the witness of faith that my cousin was to me: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”
As I reflect on it more, I also realize that the opposite of the above-mentioned point is also, and sadly, true. People leave the Church and/or the faith in Jesus through a personal experience; either through an experience with a person or group in the Church or an unfortunate event or tragedy whom the person blames God for. I can’t even count how many times I have heard former Catholics say they left the Church due to the hypocrisy they’ve seen in the members. My heart breaks even further for those who have been victims of sexual abuse from the trusted shepherds of the Church.
There is indeed much work to be done…
In today’s Gospel we once again hear Jesus proclaim the truth about Himself. He is the Son of God the Father. He does what is pleasing to God. And many of the people present are convinced and converted; yet many also “die in sin”, denying the message and therefore denying who Jesus really is. The naysayers continue to ask Jesus (even though He’s repeated himself many times), “Who are you?”
In our world now, many people still have no idea who Jesus is. They have not been convinced by His message. I sometimes think it is not the message that most people have a problem with – it’s us, the messengers. It’s funny that almost all people believe in the message of Jesus with almost no contestation, but once the label of “Christianity” or “Catholicism” is brought up there are immediate walls raised. So in way it’s the messengers that have been failing at carrying the torch that Jesus has passed on to us. And since the burden of this duty rests on us, we will be responsible for not having proclaimed the truth of Jesus to all those we encounter. This is a serious task that we have and we cannot waste a single moment of our limited time on this earth. Without Jesus, salvation isn’t possible; therefore, our task of evangelization is a matter of life and death. We tell our young leaders today a phrase that a wise mentor once told me, “We are in the business of saving souls.”
Pray a decade of the Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries
Gospel (John 8:21-30)
Again he said to them, “I go away, and you will seek me and die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” Then said the Jews, “Will he kill himself, since he says, `Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Even what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge; but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he spoke to them of the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he spoke thus, many believed in him.
Are the people in your life and those you encounter convinced of who Jesus is? Have you consciously been making an effort during this season to share Christ with everyone you meet? But remember the following: Most people are not brought to the faith through debate and/or intellectual discussion.
I believe that one of the ways people are brought to a greater understanding and love for the Lord is through beauty. The outsider to the faith encounters beauty when they first encounter God, and this is what draws them in. Similarly, a person who sees the beauty of a faithful Christian’s life is also drawn in and brought closer to God. They see that our lives are not oppressive or burdensome, but rather liberating and beautiful.
Take 10-15 minutes to think about the person or people in your life that you need to share the beauty and truth of Jesus with. How is your life a reflection of the truth and beauty of Jesus? How can you share this with those people?
Go out and bring Jesus to all that you meet.
Comments and prayer requests are welcomed in the comments below…