Catholics are not very good at talking publicly about their faith. And be sure, for many years really was not a pressing need for Catholics to think of themselves as evangelists. After all, parishes were filled, priests were abundant, and Catholic schools did not lack for students. and perhaps in these days of abundant, at least in the United States, we lost sight of the gospel mandate of Jesus: go, teach, and make disciples of all nations.
Both the first reading of the gospel today speak of this type of reluctance on the part of those called to proclaim the life of faith which God calls everyone. For Isaiah, it is his wickedness that stands in the way. In the gospel, disciples are afraid because of the immense task of confronting evil in their day. What stands in the way for us?
For if we believe that we have found a tremendous and new way of life, one that is the pathway to living forever, to finding deep fulfillment, and discovering the purpose for which we were created, I would we not want to share this with others? Perhaps for the same reasons we encounter in today’s readings.
We too, can feel unworthy. We too can find the task of confronting the evil of our data be daunting. Couple that with the real resistance that Catholics historically have had to evangelization, and it does not become difficult at all to see why making disciples of Jesus is not Catholic priority. But if we are to be faithful to the words of Jesus to go, teach, baptize and make disciples of all the nations that evangelizes we must become.
Perhaps what we don’t realize most, is that when we are engaged in the activity of evangelizing it doesn’t always look the same. Perhaps we think that evangelizing means going door-to-door with pamphlets engaging in controversial conversations and being obnoxious. Perhaps our vision of evangelization is that it is better left to the “professionals.”
Whatever our resistance, our attention today is focused on the fact that true evangelization comes not in any specific program, or in following a clear-cut set of rules, or anything that we could come up with on our own. True evangelization comes when we recognize that the source of the message that we speak is no one less than the Lord Jesus himself.
Here is what the Lord reminds Isaiah: “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” The Lord Jesus does not seek perfect disciples from the start. The Lord Jesus does not overlook those who may have sinned and fallen short. No, the Lord Jesus seeks to clean our hearts and our lips so that in spite of our frailties and perhaps even because of the, we are able to proclaim the good news.
So, go, teach, baptize, and make disciples of all the nations. Your baptism requires nothing less.