We had a fairly quiet new years eve this year. I was expecting the text, and when it came it said that a family member had passed away peacefully after receiving the last rites.
I’m glad they received the last rites. I was also able to have Mass said, and pray a Divine Mercy chaplet for them. You see, they were a very good person, but had not practiced their faith for a very long time.
We all have loved ones who have – for whatever reason – fallen away from the faith. Each circumstance is different, each family is different, each individual is different. But we all have 2 things in common:
- Jesus loves us.
- One day we will die.
When we come face to face with God at the moment of our death we will be called to give account of our lives. Jesus tells us that “He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice.” – (Divine Mercy)
In this new year 2016, we as the Catholic Church on earth, in purgatory or in heaven, are focusing on Mercy. It seems to me that their is no greater act of mercy than to pray for those who need to come back to Jesus. We often become illusioned that our acts of kindness, mercy, charity and love have to be these big monumental events that change people’s lives. But I am saying no, they don’t. I believe that 99 times out of 100 it is the little things that make the difference. Little things done with great love.
The same can be said regarding evangelisation. People have this false manufactured notion that we need to be going out to spread the Gospel. But I disagree. I believe the people God wants us to evangelise to are the people closest to us: our spouse, children, siblings, parents. And after that: our friends, neighbours, work colleagues. God has already put us into a perfect situation to evangelise – our ordinary daily lives.
We are already surrounded by people who have fallen out of relationship with Jesus, or have not yet come into one. As positive as they are, we do not need to be setting up parish initiatives, or nationwide conferences or having meeting after meeting to decide how we are going to invent ways to take the Good News out to people, because for 99% of us those people already surround us!!!
I think for most of us it is less challenging to to talk about Jesus to a stranger than to our own family.
But the point of evangelisation is that it has to be authentic, and it has to be witnessed – and personally I believe it has to be organic ie. within the natural relationship we already have, rather than being a manufactured event. In this way evangelisation becomes much more challenging because it forces us to ask ourselves not only the question “How would I describe my relationship with Christ?” but “How do live my relationship with Christ, and can my family member/friend see this in my ordinary daily life?”
This is a big subject, and there is no way I an cover it in one blog post, but you are beginning to get the idea.
We all have lapsed loved ones who we desperately want to bring back into a relationship with Christ. And for many of us – perhaps all of us, this is going to mean taking a good look at our own relationship with Christ first.
Perhaps St Monica is the one to go to here. She prayed for her wayward son for decades until he finally came back to the faith. Her wayward son of course went on to become St. Augustine.
I am surrounded by lapsed loved ones in my own life. It is, and has been one of the biggest sadnesses of my life that my faith is not able to be shared, but is instead belittled and often quietly ridiculed by those closest to me. But wasn’t Jesus mocked too? Yes, He was. And He still chose to love them and forgive them, and die for them.
In 2016, I hope I can find a way to love as Jesus loved, and be Christ to those around me who so desperately need to come back to Him. I hope you will join me in this year of mercy in praying for, and hopefully bringing all your loved ones back into a relationship with Jesus, before it’s too late.