This past Sunday was the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. I love the connection between the first reading in Amos where Amos tells the priest that he's just a shepherd doing what the Lord asked of him and the Gospel from Mark where Jesus sends the Twelve apostles out to preach and heal and cast out demons. I love how the readings are always so well put together!!
This week's question: In what ways do I help to spread the Gospel?
"The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is 'sent out' into the world. All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways" (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 863). Because we "are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of (our) Baptism and Confirmation, (we) have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth" (CCC 900). "It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, for the love of Christ urges us on" (CCC 851).
The above excerpts reminded me of part of a lecture we recently went to where the Bishop was the speaker. The lecture was part of a series of lectures with the overriding theme of the sacraments. This last lecture was on the two service sacraments: Holy Orders and Marriage. It was a really great lecture; our Bishop is a wonderful speaker and I always learn something when I attend a lecture of his. During the talk, while he was on the topic of Holy Orders he mentioned that we are all, as a community of baptised Catholics, a priestly people. He had a lot more to say in a much more eloquent way that I do, but essentially we all are called to evangelize the faith in some way, whether we are ordained priests or not. It's a thought-provoking concept if you've never thought of it that way before.
Back to the question, how do I help to spread the Gospel? Well, for one thing, posting on this blog my reflections on the Gospel each week is one way. In addition, I am being more bold in being a voice of the morals and values I believe in as a result of my Catholic faith. I have become engaged in conversations on a variety of posts I've seen on Facebook and some message boards I belong to. I've gotten into debates on abortion, contraception, and suicide, to name a few. In some of these cases I am speaking with people who have completely opposite views from me and in others I am speaking with other Catholics who are questioning things in our common faith. Either way, I hope that when I speak I am allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me in choosing my words well.
Those sorts of things are great to do, but I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from St. Francis of Assisi: "Always preach the Gospel and, only when necessary, use words." These are powerful words from that great Saint! I love them and try to remind myself of this whenever possible. I remember leaving Church on Sundays as a kid and we'd be in the car trying to get out of the parking lot (we went to a huge church and the parking lot was always packed!) and someone wouldn't let us out, or into a line of exiting traffic, or cut us off or something and my mother would always wonder aloud how people can leave church and then be so rude in the parking lot. What a great image!! (And this would really make sense to you if you could have seen the maze of cars and how they packed them all into this parking lot!). It's so true that we see people all the time who claim to be Christian but don't act it. How much different the world would be if more people actually acted in a way that conformed more with the faith they claim to profess. I know I'm not perfect and, like everyone else, I make mistakes and I slip up (insert plug for the Sacrament of Reconciliation here!), but I hope that I do act, more often than not, in a way that reflects to others that I am a moral, Christian person. I strongly believe that our actions often do speak louder than our words.
Interestingly enough, Theology on Tap started this past Monday and the Bishop was our first speaker. The theme for this 6-week series is "Beyond Sunday" and his topic was evangelization. How funny that we have this reading about Jesus sending the apostles out to evangelize and the very next day we begin a series of talks on how we can better live our faith in our everyday lives! The wisdom of the Holy Spirit never ceases to amaze!!
(Quick advertisement.) If you're in Lexington (or close enough to get here for an evening) stop by and check out Theology on Tap. Have a beer, some food and fellowship, and enjoy a talk from an engaging speaker. We meet at Shooters on Southland Dr. about 6:30, talk is at 7:00pm. Every Monday through August 17.
One last thing. I look forward to one day sharing the faith and the Gospel with my children. I am so looking forward to one day sharing the joy of the Catholic faith with my own children and being an example for them of how to live the faith. I think any parent that works at doing this is truly doing the work of God in abundant ways. So for all you parents out there: keep working at it! I hope to join your ranks one day myself.
So now it's your turn. In what ways do you help to spread the Gospel? I look forward to seeing your comments!