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SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS | People are waiting for meaningful conversations

We must open up psychological space for deeper dialogue

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

“How was your weekend?”

We get this question all the time. What if we were to answer along the following lines: “You know, my pastor gave a homily that really made me see some things differently in my life. I’m glad I was there to hear it.”

My point is not that we should be virtue-signaling about going to Mass. My point is that somehow we’ve learned to hide this aspect of our lives, to talk about anything and everything about our weekends besides church. What if we unlearned that habit — what if we stopped hiding that part of our lives?

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” That’s the question put to Jesus this week by one of the Pharisees. It’s a good question — right to the heart of the matter. In response, Jesus engages the Pharisees in a good conversation, one that turns some things on their head!

I think people are waiting for the chance to ask us questions, too, and to have conversations that matter. But, very often, we don’t give them the chance to ask. We don’t open up the space in which those conversations can happen. We leave things on the surface, and that’s where they stay.

How did you come to know Jesus?

I know how to “say my prayers.” What does it mean to listen to God while I’m praying?

How do you find the balance between being Martha and being Mary?

Why do you believe in God?

How do you find God amid suffering?

People are hungry for deep conversations. And the truth is, it’s only in the depths that they’ll find a life-giving connection with God. If and when we talk about going to church — not in a pushy way, but in a matter-of-fact way — we open the door to those deeper conversations. The other person can decide whether they want to walk through that door or not.

That’s not yet evangelization. It’s just how we open the door to evangelization. And if the other person decides to walk through that door, what it requires of us is not that we master complex theological concepts, but that we give a basic witness: “Here’s what matters to me, and here’s why.”

I know many people don’t feel prepared to open that door. That’s precisely one of the things that All Things New aims to change: getting us to the point where everyone feels comfortable opening that door and allowing people to walk through it.

We talk about being a welcoming Church. But do we welcome the deep conversations people want to have, or are we intent on continuing to hide the religious part of our lives? If we want to be a welcoming Church, we have to be willing to open up the psychological space in which deeper conversations can happen, and to do it wherever we are.

So, here’s the question to prepare for: “What are you doing this weekend?”

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