Into the Deep

 

“Woe to me…”
   “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel […] I have been entrusted with a stewardship” (1 Cor 9:16-17). For St. Paul, preaching the gospel was not only a matter of personal election or an option among many to follow the Lord. It was a necessity inherent in the fact of knowing the Lord, the first task of his ministry. So much so that, elsewhere in the letter, he goes so far as to say to the Corinthians: “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel” (1 Cor 1:17). With this expression he does not mean that baptizing is not important (a little earlier he mentions how he himself baptized members of the community, vv. 14,16), but that it must be preceded by the proclamation of the good news. And this is precisely his legacy to his disciple Timothy (and us through him) when Paul was about to be martyred, “poured out like a libation”: “proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” (2 Tm 4:2).
   This Sunday’s readings refer precisely to missionary sending. The Gospel points out how the Lord himself sends his apostles with authority, two by two (symbol of the message of love), and with few means to “preach repentance”. The first reading presents the testimony of Amos who, although he was neither “a prophet, nor he belonged to a company of prophets”, the Lord took him from following the flock and said to him “Go, prophesy my people”. Both stories have much in common: unlikely people are chosen for the mission and the means they are given seem to be insufficient.
   Now, are these ancient stories reserved for very specific persons, Paul, Amos, the apostles, or the like, designated for a mission that is theirs alone? On the contrary, the Church teaches us that the missionary mandate belongs to everyone, it belongs to the essence of what the Church is. Saint Paul VI in his exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (“Proclaiming the Gospel”) explained it beautifully with the words: “Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize,” (#14). And the Catechism tells the faithful that “Lay people also fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, that is, the  roclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life.” (#905)
   But many may think easier said than done. Certainly, it is always something outside our comfort zone. Share the news of the gospel in a world that thinks that it can save itself, preach repentance to a society imbued in comfort and hedonism, teach the truth to minds enrooted in relativism might don’t seem always easy. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Recently I was reading an interesting book by Patti Maguire Armstrong, Holy Hacks. Everyday Ways to Live your Faith & Get to Heaven. The author provides easy practices for our spiritual life (humility, prayer, relationships…). One of the chapters is about evangelization, and here there is a selection of easy things to do to spread the message: Smile; wear a crucifix; be open about your faith and don’t edit God out of your conversations; be friendly to cashiers, waitresses, and  homever you encounter in the service industry, and when you say good-bye, say “God bless you; have a nice day”; when someone brings up a problem or an issue, tell them you will pray  or them; use social media to send meaningful messages; include faith in conversations but not in a pushy way; have a statue or two outside your house and religious art on your walls; use the closing in your emails and letters such as “God bless you”; use kindness; share your faith journey; pray the Holy Spirit for wisdom…
As we say sometimes at the end of Mass: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”.

Fr. Javier Nieva, DCJM

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Previous Letters:
July 7, 2024: Come and Rest (II)
June 30, 2024: Come and Rest (I)
June 23, 2024: Storms
June 16, 2024: I Will be a Father to You
June 9, 2024: Burning Furnace of Love
June 2, 2024: In the Midst of Him
May 26, 2024: Forever I Will Sing the Goodness of the Lord
May 19, 2024: Through the Holy Spirit
May 12, 2024: The Ark of the Covenant
May 5, 2024: Source and Summit
April 28, 2024: Rejoice Always
April 21, 2024: I Believe in the resurrection of the body Part II
April 14, 2024: I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body Part 1
April 7, 2024: Rich in Mercy
March 31, 2024: Sine Dominico Non Possumus About Sunday
February 11, 2024: I Was Ill and You Cared For Me
February 4, 2024: Why Evil?
January 28, 2024: Catholic Schools Week
January 21, 2024: Attachments
January 14, 2024: The LORD Shines
January 7, 2024: Epiphany 2024
December 31, 2023: A Family of Families
December 25, 2023: New Beginnings
December 17, 2023: Christmas
December 3, 2023: Watch
November 26, 2023: Be Healed
November 19, 2023: Sealed
November 12, 2023: Religious?