Proclaim the Gospel - Starting With Those You Know

Jeff Hedglen

Director of Young Adult & Campus Ministry

North Texas Catholic

4/21/2017

The Easter season is in full swing. After our journey through the desert of Lent and the solemn celebrations of the Triduum, we now bask in the glow of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles reveal how the early Church moves from bewildered, frightened, cautious people to a cohort that sets the world on fire for the love of Jesus. I suppose the question for us in 2017 is where do we stand on this continuum? Are we more with the bewildered, or are we the fired up?

Truth is, many of us are stuck somewhere in the middle. Faith in Jesus, coupled with our baptism, launches us into the role of disciple, literally a follower of Jesus. But following Jesus is a two-part job. Before Jesus ascends to heaven He commissions the disciples to finish what He started. We are instructed to be his followers and to make more followers worldwide. So, let’s take a look at this two-fold responsibility of discipleship.

First, we are to be disciplined in the way of Jesus. This evokes the image of a pupil sitting at the feet of the Master, soaking up as much wisdom, knowledge, and insight as possible. Another way of stating this is growing in the “interior life.” In other words, working on our inward spirituality, diving deeper into the sacraments, growing as a person of prayer, going to Adoration, reading and meditating on the Scriptures, and examining our conscience and confessing all our sins. When we strive to do these things, we grow in holiness. But, a deep and developed interior life is only part one of the Christian life.

Part two mandates that we take all that we have learned at the feet of the Master and share it with others. And here is where it gets hard. To be sure, it is one thing to love Jesus and it is another thing to tell others about this love. While I do not necessarily mean walking up to random people and telling them Jesus loves them, I do mean that we need to talk to other people about how we have encountered Jesus’ love and invite them into a relationship with the Savior.

Being a disciple has a cost. It will cost you mostly in time. To really explore the interior life takes time. But it takes even more time to invest in another person’s life. Notice I said another “person’s” life. Not every single person’s life. Yes, we are called by God to reach the entire world, but not by ourselves! Start with one person. Maybe there is that one person at work, or someone you used to see at church, or a neighbor, or a friend from high school. 

How do you evangelize them? Well I would suggest NOT leading with “Hey want to spend an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament?” Start with coffee and reconnect with them. Find out what has been going on in their life. See what they are interested in and suggest you hang out doing those things together. After a few weeks maybe start talking about something that you experienced at church, or how a homily really touched you. See how they react to that. And in time invite them back to Mass or to a Bible study at church.

You can see that this is going to cost you time. Take an honest look at your week and how you spend your time. Could you watch fewer Netflix shows? Could you play fewer videogames or watch fewer sporting events? 

Maybe you are raising a bunch of kids and you don’t do any of the above things or maybe your work schedule is about all you can handle. I know life can be crazy. But I also know that Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Start with the people around you and start “discipling.” 

We have just celebrated the Risen Jesus and this fills our interior life with such joy. Now it is time to ramp up our exterior mission and pray about who Jesus is calling us to disciple. You do not have to be a theologian; you just have to be a friend who helps another friend grow closer to Jesus.

 

The Easter season is in full swing. After our journey through the desert of Lent and the solemn celebrations of the Triduum, we now bask in the glow of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Published (until 12/12/2039)
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