Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel.”
We’ll be reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans for the next four weeks, and this is one of the first things he says.
It strikes me that we’re also not ashamed to be known as Cardinals fans, or Blues fans, or City fans and so on. We’re fans. And we let people know. And, honestly, I think that’s a good thing!
But the feast days, the Psalms and the readings this week all work together to raise an important follow-up question: Are we as ready to make our faith known?
We celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch Oct. 17. The letters he wrote at the end of his life show that he wanted to be a visible witness to faith in Christ, and he was! We celebrate the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist Oct. 18. He wrote his Gospel to let people know what Jesus had done and the Acts of the Apostles to show how the Church — under the power of the Holy Spirit — was carrying forward Jesus’ mission. We celebrate the feast of the North American Martyrs Oct. 19. These Jesuits made their faith evident by their missionary work among the Native Americans in the 1600s and by giving their lives for the faith. None of these saints was ashamed of the Gospel; they serve as examples of how to make our faith known.
Psalm 98 tells us: “The Lord has made known His salvation.” Psalm 19 tells us: “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 145 tells us: “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.” God makes His love evident to us; we’re called to make God’s love evident to others.
In one Gospel reading this week, Jesus sends out His disciples to proclaim that the Kingdom is at hand and empowers them to perform miracles to support their proclamation. He’s telling them: make the Kingdom evident to the people you encounter. He says the same to us.
Everyone knows when we’re Cardinals or Blues or City fans because we make it evident to them in some way. Why shouldn’t we make our faith evident to others as well?
Let me be clear: I’m not saying it has to be evident in exactly the same way. It doesn’t! How we do it has to be appropriate to the nature of the faith. It doesn’t have to be flashy or showy; in fact, it can’t! But why shouldn’t it be just as deliberate and evident that we’re Catholic?
When Jesus said we shouldn’t blow a trumpet before us, recite lengthy prayers or even let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, He wasn’t telling us to hide our faith. Those lines of Scripture have been misunderstood and misused to make us ashamed to show our faith. Jesus was criticizing those who use God to draw attention to themselves. That criticism still stands! But He also told us — and all Scripture tells us — that we should let our lives draw attention to God. That mandate still stands, too!
Let’s think about good ways to make our faith known to the world.