What if your friends and family could only draw their conclusions about God based upon observing your life? What would they say? How would they describe God? This was the question posed to me many years ago by a good friend. While I know that God can make himself known in many ways, still, I am often challenged to take stock of how I’m conducting myself among my friends and those who don’t know me but are observing.
In this week’s Gospel reading [Jan 13, 2005], John the Baptist sees that his life and ministry are directly related to Christ being revealed to Israel. As Christians, we too have the great privilege and responsibility of making Christ known in the world through our words and deeds. We see in the Scriptures that when people’s lives were changed by Jesus, they went out into the world and communicated their new-found pearl of great price.
The Apostle John said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ” (1 John 3:1-3).
The early disciples of Christ eagerly proclaimed their experience with Christ. But, if you’re like me, witnessing doesn’t come naturally. It’s something I have to work at.
Not only do I have to learn my faith, I have to learn how to communicate it to others who may not share my experiences. In addition, witnessing involves getting to know the heartaches and joys of those with whom we come in contact. In other words, we need to get involved in other people’s lives, and we need to become vulnerable.
Archbishop Harry Flynn [of St. Paul, MN] has outlined an Evangelization Initiative for the next three years that focuses on exactly this. He said, “Every once in a while we need to stop and we need to say, ‘What are we about?’ We are about making the name of Jesus Christ known and loved and having the effects of making that name known take place within our society in reaching out to our brothers and sisters.”
The archbishop stresses that if we are going to make Christ known, we must come to know him ourselves. We must be able to speak of Jesus’ involvement in our own lives, what he means to us and how he is working in us.
The Evangelization Initiative is our opportunity to make Christ known in a greater way in the Twin Cities. Not only can we communicate to others in small group discussions what Christ has meant to us, but we can also gain a fuller understanding of Christ through the witness of others. I encourage you to call your parish and ask how they are participating in the Evangelization Initiative.
THINGS TO DO
- If you live in the Archdiocese of St. Paul, sign up with your parish to participate in the Evangelization Initiative.
- Wherever you may live, think of something you really appreciate about the Lord and look for an opportunity to share it with someone this week.
Originally published in the Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, MN. Reprinted here by permission of the author.