understand. For this too I believe, that unless I first believe, I
shall not understand."
What does it mean to evangelize? What does it mean to spread the Word? These are all questions that the Christian asks throughout his life. For some all it takes is one monumental moment in their life, for others it could take a lifetime of monumental moments for them to realize the nature of our Christian faith.
A wise priest once told me “fundamental Christianity is taking complacent ideas and turning them into simple deeds.” I think all too many times as we walk or drive we see opportunities to serve or give, and think “that person could use my help” or “there is no sense in this trash being here.” Yet there is that little still voice that beckons “don’t worry, someone else will drive by and help them, you are busy so don’t worry about it.”
And there the momentum stops, the complacent idea remains just what it was in the beginning. The opportunity to serve is passed, lost, and can never be changed. Later on the Christian wonders “what if?”
Into our life walks Friar. During ADORE last week while holding a spot light I noticed it wasn’t a seminarian with the censor going before the monstrance. He was a monk with full garb and rounded shaved hair! It wasn’t too surprising, being that every so often someone traveling through the diocese is invited to come to an event and it is always a blessing to meet them to learn of their life and experience.
After everything was over Paul walked over and said he wanted us to meet someone. Friar is a member of a newly founded religious community known as the Poor Friars and Nuns of the Victory of Jesus and Mary. Born in Australia and then living in Italy he learned of the new order and felt his calling to serve the Lord through the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. For several years he has been in seminary in Italy, but during his break they have been seeking places to start a new community. Bishop Jacobs was one of a few who responded to their letter of requests, so Friar traveled here to our diocese to begin the process!
We spent an evening with him just talking about life then going to mass. He informed us he was about to return to seminary in Italy and was looking to visit his brothers and sisters in Mexico. We found a flight for him leaving out at 6am on Tuesday. Monday night Darby and I brought him to New Orleans, had amazing conversation, and was even able to pray evening prayer with him responding in Italian!
What is interesting though is that their order is cloistered, and ministers to the poor of the community or travels by hitchhiking, but Friar used every opportunity to remind us that every moment can be a chance to share the Word and evangelize. You can check them out at http://nuke.poorfriars.net/
Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World) gives a bold statement that sounded like a deep bell within my heart, very awakening. He says that
“those who have received the Good News and who have been gathered by it into the community of salvation can and must communicate and spread it . . .For the Christian community is never closed in upon itself. The intimate life of this community-life of listening to the Word and the apostle’s teaching. . .this life only acquires it’s full meaning when it becomes a witness. Thus it is the whole Church that receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole. . . .Such an exhortation seems to us to be of capital importance, for the presentation of the Gospel message is not an optional contribution for the Church. It is the duty incumbent on her by the command of the Lord Jesus, so that people can believe and be saved.”
This makes complete light of James 2:14-26 that faith without works is dead. We receive the Word, and in that receiving we are obligated to share that word.
“If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them “go in peace, be warmed and filled” without giving them the things needed for the body what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, it is dead.” James 2:15-17
“but there are also many other things which Jesus did, were every one of them to be written, not even the world itself could contain the books to be written.” John 21:25
I guess we better get to work =)