Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
What’s your particular way of bringing out the best in others?
That question is a great conversation starter. It’s one way of distinguishing between a natural ability and a charism — a gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s a great way to start noticing what God is doing in and through you and others.
This week we read from Psalm 1. It’s said that the Psalms convey every human emotion and draw them all into prayer. If that’s the case, and if it were up to you, what would you put in the first Psalm, and what would you put in the last Psalm?
It’s not up to us, of course! But, again, it’s a great question: It’s a way of drawing out what’s most prominent or most important in another person’s experience.
What do you think the Kingdom of God will be like?
Jesus uses a whole series of metaphors to talk about the Kingdom. We hear two of them this week: the mustard seed that becomes a great bush and the yeast that leavens a great quantity of flour. But it’s worth thinking about: If you could pick a metaphor, what would yours be? Asking this question is a great way to find out more about a person’s imagination, what they look forward to or where they find rest and refreshment.
Good questions make for great conversations. They’re also a really effective tool for evangelization. We often think that evangelization means having all the right answers. But asking good questions shows people that we’re open to them, and that we want to open a door rather than push them through a door. When we ask good questions, we open people up to noticing what God is doing in their lives. Getting people to notice that for themselves is a huge part of evangelization.
So let’s keep going.
This week, in Ephesians 2, St. Paul talks about Jesus as the “capstone” of our faith. It’s interesting that, in biblical Greek, there’s no distinction between the word for “cornerstone” and the word for “capstone.” But those are different architectural realities. The cornerstone is the first stone put in place and everything else in a building is measured from it. The capstone is the last stone placed in a catenary arch (like the St. Louis Arch) and it holds the entire structure together. So, in what ways do you experience God as the cornerstone of your life — the baseline for measuring everything else? And in what ways do you experience God as the capstone of your life — the one who allows everything to fit together? If you could experience one of those more deeply, which would it be?
Finally, this week, in Ephesians 6, we hear St. Paul use a metaphor for the life of faith. He speaks of it as the armor of God, and develops the metaphor: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith and so on. If you could articulate a metaphor for the life of faith, what would it be? What elements of music (harmony and discord?), or exercise (teamwork and perseverance?), or gardening (watering and weeding?) and so on would you use?
All Things New is meant to energize our sense of evangelization. If we could get better at asking good questions, I think we might find evangelization to be a less daunting task.