I took away a few things from the readings at Mass today:
1) A challenge to evangelize.
“What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”
2) The knowledge of what we should really be afraid of in regards to this challenge (judgement of our Heavenly Father), and other matters in life; and
“be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.”
3) How precious we are to the Lord.
“Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Let’s start with that first point. Our priest explained that today’s Gospel reading was, essentially, Jesus telling His disciples that they were ready to go out and evangelize; they were prepared, they had what they needed, and that it was now time. He told them that they didn’t have to be afraid of what was to come when they evangelized, whether that would be ridicule or laughter.
This reminded me of a close family member of ours who is really good at bringing up our faith in everyday conversations with just about anybody. He does it effortlessly, and he’s very well-versed at what he’s talking about. It’s impressive! And this is something I struggle with: how to bring up our faith, and how do I do it in a way that’s natural, and how do I do it in a way that will reach someone’s heart?
I was speaking to a close friend the other day, who is a priest, and he suggested that we should all be more like that close family member of ours; more ready to, as St. Peter put it, give a reason for our hope. And that we should all be more prepared to speak succinctly and clearly about our faith, and about our encounter with Jesus. Today’s Gospel reading reaffirmed this point in my heart. I’m going to have to work on that one…
The second point: There are risks we take while we evangelize. When it comes to family & friends, we risk losing their good opinion of us. We risk losing their respect sometimes. Other times, we might even risk losing our connection with them altogether. While these things can be hurtful, and even make us want to stray away from bringing up conversations about God or our faith, they are not the things we should be worrying about. Their opinions of us should not, and cannot, come first. What matters to God is what has to matter to us. His opinion is the most important… So that’s another thing I’m working on 😉 I’ve found that spending more time in prayer in the mornings has been helpful with this.
But lastly, the third point, is where it gets really good, and it reminds me that it’s okay that I have to work on those first two: we are precious to our Father in Heaven. So precious and so known, and so Loved. When we forget this, sometimes we need to choose His love, and choose to believe in it.
And if we acknowledge our Lord in this world and in our lives, then Jesus Christ will acknowledge us before our Lord. I pray that we will all (most of all, me, because I SO need it!) have the resolve to do this every single day. There is not one minute or one opportunity where we cannot acknowledge our Father. He is not more here one minute, and here less another… but maybe we need to be more intentional about looking for Him, about knowing Him — getting to know Him like He knows us, so that we know what we’re looking for…
Father in Heaven, thank you for the gifts you’ve given me to be able to evangelize. Help me to know and see how I can be a witness to Your love and mercy to everyone in my path this week. Please help me to worry less about others’ opinions, and help me to worry more about Yours. Help me to sincerely transform my heart so that I desire only what You desire for me. Forgive me for all those times when I have denied you, Lord, and when I have not acknowledged You. Forgive me for those times when I was embarrassed, or worried about what others would say about my love for You and the Church. Help me, Father, to speak in the light what You say to me in the darkness, and to proclaim on the housetops what I hear whispered from and about You. Help my spouse & I to seek Your will, to know it, and to do it. Together. Through the powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.