Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
How would it be if we had a medicine that could cure the world of some sickness like cancer and, instead of letting everyone know, we kept it to ourselves?
It would be among the most selfish, insensitive and uncaring things we could possibly do.
And yet that’s precisely what we often do when it comes to the Gospel. A living relationship with Jesus is the cure to sin and the medicine for eternal life! But we tend to keep it to ourselves.
We’ll be reading St. Paul’s letter to the Romans for the next four weeks. The Church clearly wants us to think long and hard about it! One of the things St. Paul says in it is: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” St. Paul believes that the Gospel is the medicine of immortality. He cannot, in good conscience, keep it to himself. He wants to give everyone a chance to have this medicine. Do we believe that, too?
Who has the sickness to which the Gospel is the cure? St. Paul answers, in Romans: “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” Everyone has the sickness. Jesus is the medicine. And faith is the means by which we receive the medicine — a major theme of chapters three and four in the letter to the Romans.
There’s a natural desire to share the discovery of good things. It comes out in all kinds of ordinary ways. We hear a good song, see a good movie, find a helpful app or a good restaurant, and we become “evangelists” — sharing the good news with friends, family, and even strangers: “Listen to this song!” “Try this app.” “I went to this restaurant and it was really good — give it a try!”
There’s no pressure there, just an invitation. And yet, when it comes to the Gospel, we hesitate. Why is that?
Part of it may be that our relationship with Jesus is a more intimate part of our lives, and modesty calls us to protect what’s most intimate. But I don’t think that’s the whole truth about why we hesitate to share the Gospel.
Part of it may be that we’re unsure how to share — we don’t want to be pushy. But we can borrow from our experience with other good things that we share. Give a witness: “Hey, I did this, and it was really good.” Follow it with an invitation: “Think about giving it a try.” When it comes to restaurants and movies, that approach isn’t pushy. It simply opens a door for someone — a door they might not have known was there. They still get to decide whether to walk through. The same can be true of how we share the Gospel: It opens a door.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says: “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.” What will happen, then, if we possess the medicine that can save people from sin and death and we remain silent?