Greetings dear family of our beloved Saviour, Jesus Christ. May the light of the Holy Spirit grant to us all the grace, wisdom and courage to always witness to the love of God, either by word or deed Amen.
I thought I would write a series of letters on Evangelising. The request of Jesus to “go and make disciples of all Nations” is a call to each one of us. We are all called to evangelise the Gospel, to proclaim the kingdom of God. In truth, the only person who can convert another soul is the Holy Spirit; Jesus does not need our help in the work of redemption. Ultimately, He could pour down His grace upon whom He chooses and convert them without our help, but He chooses not to do it this way, but sometimes to allow His children to enter into His work. Why? – Because, He loves us and knows that it is our joy and consolation to bring souls to Him.
Upon our profession of faith and Baptism we become Soldiers of Christ and are called to fight the good fight. As someone once wrote: “All that is necessary for evil to exist, is for good men to do nothing.” St. Paul tells us that “faith comes by hearing” (Rom 10:17) and so it is our duty to spread the Gospel. The word ‘Gospel’ means ‘Good News’ and our world so needs to hear the good news that Jesus has redeemed us. The Christian life is about having a personal relationship with God, our Father, it is not simply knowing about Jesus, it is about knowing Jesus.
This is the essence of evangelisation: – to let everyone know that God is their heavenly Father and loves them very much! Our task, like Jesus, is to look for the lost sheep, embrace them in our hearts and carry them to the Good Shepherd for Him to restore to the Father’s fold. We must spread the news that the Christian life is a wondrous and awesome journey, a great and marvellous quest, to be raised up through the power of the Holy Spirit, to know God and to grow in love and virtue so that on that great day, we can all stand in God’s presence, clothed with the grace and mercy of Christ. There, we shall embrace God and become one with Him forever in a love so pure and tender, a divine love that will be our joy and consolation for all eternity.
“The Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) We must also tell people of the joy and wonder that can be found – here and now – within their own hearts, so that they too will ask, seek, and knock for that door, the door to their inner most being, the door of their hearts to be opened, that they may receive God’s divine love, and know peace in this life and eternal beatitude in the next.
Our world is very much lacking in hope these days, and yet people still do not look to Jesus to help heal our world – why? Perhaps it is because people are being kept too busy by their materialistic lifestyles to get to know Jesus, or maybe it is because, as Jesus tells us, “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds where evil”… (John 3:19-21) Whatever the reason, it is important that people know that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:16-19). He does not judge us at this time, but forgives us and reconciles us to the Father that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
God, however, will not force His love upon His children, but wills to draw them back to Him through the example of love given to us by His Son, Jesus. Philip Yancey once wrote “Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reason he created us… Love has its own power, the only power ultimately capable of conquering the human heart.” These words remind me of another saying which goes something like this: “If you love someone, set them free, if they return to you they are yours, if they don’t return, they never were.”
This is how God chose to act with His children: When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them free-will so that they could be completely free to make their own decisions in life. He did this knowing that one day His children would turn their backs on His love in disobedience. He also knew that because of this disobedience sin, heartbreak, disease and even death would follow, but God gave His children free-will so that in choosing to love Him, their love would be a pure and authentic love. It is because of our free-will that we are to be truly God’s children and not simply creatures that were created by Him. God is now calling us back, to live a life of peace, in harmony with Him and each other. We are all called to know, love and serve God in this life so that we can all live happily with Him in the next life.
It is very difficult to speak about Jesus today in the secular world in which we live. The Christian life demands that we live according to the will of God, which means sacrifice, something of which our hedonistic and materialistic society of today knows little about. Our Lord told us that as Christians the world would be our enemy: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18 & 19) St John tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world, if anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15) What does this mean? It is not the earth which God created that we must hate, nor any of the people in it – but the sin which is destroying our world!
It is because of this sin that we are compelled to go out into the world and bring to it the only hope of restoration – the healing grace of Christ. We live in a world of “moral relativism” where people judge their own morality by comparing it to their neighbours or their government’s. The problem in doing this, is that even our government’s laws are sometimes opposed to the law of God, with legalised gay marriages, abortion, the morning after pill (being given to children of school age without parents knowledge), sperm banks, egg donations, surrogate mothers (all these crimes bring three people into the sacred covenant of marriage, given to us by God, and thousands of children are growing up not knowing their real parents).
Then we have cloning and other scientific pursuits that are all an abomination in God’s eyes. We also have programs on our TV’s, which show our children the acts of murder, drug abuse and casual sex, some of these films our government has approved as “suitable” viewing for our children to watch. There is also more nudity in our T.V advertisements today, than you could see 20 years ago in X rated films, but we have become desensitised to it. Our standards of morality are disintegrating so fast today that we can no longer remember where we have come from, let alone where we began. Archbishop Faulton Sheen once said, “If you don’t live the way you believe, you will believe the way you live.”
The devil is making his greatest assault at this time and he is hitting at the very core of our civilization, and the world has not even noticed! All the above crimes are the attack of satan upon our families, and the family is a microcosm of our society. Satan knows that if he can destroy the family, he can destroy civilisation itself. The father should be the head of the household, the mother the heart, and the children its precious fruits but the devil’s assaults are clear: Take the children away from the family table with fast-foods, take them away from family games, conversation and intimate moments with TV and game stations. Take the mothers out to work with the fathers and leave the children to bring themselves up. Take the husbands away from the wife’s with pornography and sexual licence, take away the father’s ability to discipline his children. Take away all their hope by showing them soap operas that will reflect the worst of society’s behaviour and let them believe that this is how life is meant to be. Is it any wonder that our children turn to drugs to free themselves from this terrible world in which they live?
The devil is very powerful at present, and he is playing his trump cards. He has fooled the world, through their pride and scientific knowledge, into believing that he doesn’t even exist, that he is just a myth, a long forgotten character made up by a backward and superstitious people. But we know different, and we must make our world aware that although we are in the midst of a spiritual warfare there is a better way of life, a good life filled with love, and the hope of a better world.
If we take our moral standards from the world we will never please God; our morality must come from God’s own law, lived out through the Holy Spirit acting within us. If you were to go out into the streets today and ask people to list the 10 commandments of God, how many would be able to do so? Fewer than 5%, it is reported, and yet this is God’s law brought down to the world by God Himself. And to we who have entered into the New Covenant of Christ, God tells us, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). What God is saying here is that we will not only know God’s law but through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we will love and cherish that law and have the desire to keep it.
Jesus told us that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17), He also went on to say, “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until it is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:18 & 19) Jesus then goes on to speak about the Old Law, which He defines and perfects for His listeners. (See Matt 5:21-48) Incidentally, many scholars take Jesus’ action here as one of the signs of His divinity, because Jesus would not dare to improve on the Commandments of God, if He had not been God himself.
Morality is not just about abstaining from evil, but is an obligation to participate in the good. St Anthony of Padua wrote, “A work done without devotion of the heart is like a lamp without oil.” For the Christian, our social action must be done for the love of God. If we pray to the Holy Spirit before we begin, asking Him to guide us and work through us, then our work becomes sanctified and has greater value – for ourselves and for the recipients. It is in the example of our daily lives, living a good clean moral life for the love of Christ, with joy in our hearts, that we can best evangelise our faith. St Francis of Assisi once said, “We must preach the gospel boldly, and sometimes we must use words”.
When it comes to speaking to others about Jesus our words can sometimes seem judgmental, which they must never be, but in our good actions we can speak clearly to people without making them feel uncomfortable. Jesus told us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16) He tells us that we are to be the “salt” and the “light” of this world. If we live out our faith to its fullness, with intensity, others will see Jesus in us and be drawn to question why our lives are so different – and we will be different – and we should be different! For some people we may be the only Jesus they ever get to see. Apart from seeing our good conduct they should also see in us God’s love, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit which are: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, these are the fruits of the Spirit mentioned by Paul in Galatians 5:22 & 23
Let us try our best to be the Light and Salt of our world, let us witness with kind words, good intentions, moral lives and cheerful self-giving hearts. Let us be the face of God upon the earth: His arms that embrace, His guiding hand and His loving smile. Let everyone see the love of God through us His mystical body. Let us try to do all things out of love – expecting no reward. Let us give all things, endure all things, and forgive all things, for the love of Jesus, and for no other reward than knowing that we are fulfilling His will. We cannot do much, but just a smile or a kindness done, can often speak more than a thousand words. To be the light of the world means simply to let God’s love be clearly seen by others.
Let us pray together: Heavenly Father, pour Your Spirit of love into our hearts; may we be Your loving children. Let nothing enter our hearts that is not of Your love. May the grace of the Holy Spirit inspire all our actions, that we may be one with You in being the light of the world. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.