Have you ever seen yourself as a person who is called to introduce others to the person of Jesus? Most Catholics do not. They do not envision that they are the ones to go door to door to talk about Jesus. This is often seen as something “the Protestants do”, or the Mormons. But as Catholics, we are not so likely to view ourselves as those door to door evangelists. But if not us, how is it that people are to get to know Jesus? How is it that others will be brought to our Church? How is it that Jesus can get more disciples? Today’s readings issue a profound challenge to each of us to see ourselves as missionaries.
(Listen to today’s homily, by clicking the links above.)
What a powerful line in today’s gospel. “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” When we consider this man’s situation, how long he had been separated by this possession from his family, how kind Jesus is. He has freed this man. He has made him whole again. Understandably, this man now wants to follow Jesus wherever he leads. Who wouldn’t? But as always, Jesus sees the bigger picture. This man who has been made whole is now a disciple of Jesus. Proclaim to your family what God has done! Help them to be made whole!
How often do we make clear to our families all that God has done for us? How often do we ourselves even know what God has done for us? Proclaim! Tell the Good News that Jesus is in our midst. There is nothing more wonderful than that! Proclaim that Jesus is alive and the kingdom is in our midst!
“If one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.” Do you ever see yourself as one being called to give a word of exhortation? Do you take seriously the obligation of baptism that we share, explain and at times defend the faith? Or, in the midst of conflict, do you see that as something left to others, like bishops or priests? Catholics do not have a deep and long history of seeing themselves as proclaimers of the Word. We have more of a tradition of remaining quiet, perhaps because of a long memory that we really did not need to worry about it. People came to the Church.
Today that is not as true. Those who claim “no religion” (so-called “nones”) are the fastest growing group in the United States. The data for millennials is not encouraging. There is a net decline of some significance in the number of priests in the United States. While the number of those students studying theology has remained relatively constant since 1990, the number of priests who retire each year is greater. (For a full statistical report, go to the Center for Applied Research for the Apostolate’s research blog.) There is a need for all of us to see the need to proclaim the faith.