When God invites us to do the work of spreading the Gospel, He wants us to get on the road. He doesn’t want us to waste time making sure that we have every single base covered before we move forward. God has very little patience for the excuses for not getting on the road to do the work to be evangelization. And a big part of the call that God has given us is to trust more in the promise of God and less in our own preparedness.
If you can think through the whole list of prophets that were called by God, they each had their own excuse for not thinking they could do what was asked of them to do. They thought they were either too old or too young, from the wrong country or spoke the wrong language or maybe were too uneducated or too busy. Many of them thought that what God was asking them to do didn’t fit in with their plan for their life. Does any of this sound familiar to you? Are these any of the excuses that you have used to keep yourself from responding to what God is asking you to do?
We all have stories about the unusual ways that our lives reflect Jesus to others. Often it’s not to the people we think we are effective with or who are listening to us, but rather to those people who are on the periphery of our lives or those with whom we have chance encounters. God uses us in a variety of ways, some we can’t even imagine, if we just get on the road and do what He asks us to do. In the Gospel for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we have a few hints about how we are to do that. It usually works best if we follow the pattern that Jesus has laid out for us and we get our own stubbornness out of the way.
It’s clear that we shouldn’t be carrying a lot of extra baggage, especially the kind that shield us from other people or keeps us from depending on others. Somehow, our work for Jesus should help us to be as vulnerable with others as we are asking them to be with us. Our sharing of the Gospel with others in the lives that we lead should look so much like Jesus that people’s attention is drawn toward Him. Especially in these days when we are taught to be suspect of one another, it might be hard for us to imagine that people would welcome us and that we would find a home with others. Many of us hang around with the same kind of people, the kind of people who are just like us and who don’t call us out of our current level of comfortability. That is certainly not the pattern of Jesus.
It’s also clear that we are not supposed to do this alone. Partners in spreading the faith are essential because none of us holds all the gifts and skills that it takes, and no one has unlimited energy. Partners in faith, which is what we are called to be as we attend Mass on weekends, are the relationships that are formed that give us the strength to move out beyond ourselves. Who is your partner in faith with whom you would be willing to walk the road of evangelization?
Not everyone will welcome our message, but there are certainly folks who are hungry and thirsty for a word of abundant life, a word of healing and compassion and a word of generosity and forgiveness. Many of us have become cynical, but I’m praying that hasn’t tainted your willingness to walk the road for Jesus. In fact, if you have the courage to walk the road, the experiences can turn our stony hearts back to hearts of flesh. These experiences of acting in Jesus’ name and speaking His Good News can be healing not only for those who are listening but also for those of us who carry the Word.
Many of us are planning some sort of vacation or away time. Why not plan some time away from your normal patterns of sharing your faith? Where are the invitations of Jesus to go out into the world and share His Good News? Why not take up God’s invitation to find a partner in faith? Many of us who are lifelong Catholics have never done this. We’ve lived our private faith life pretty well but not so much our public faith life. Our life becomes abundant when we believe in the promises that we have been given by God and act on them. Have fun on the road this week!
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.