Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Go Into the Whole World

Today's Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul presents us with the beautiful commission of Jesus to the Apostles. "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)
Naturally we have to take and apply this to ourselves as well. Which begs the question: "How much do I proclaim the Gospel?" Each day we are given opportunities to announce the "Good News" to others. Do we accept and embrace these opportunities? Unfortunately, there is this warped sense among many people that faith does not belong in the public forum. The relationship with God is considered private, and sharing it in any but a religious setting is somehow seen as "inappropriate". Nothing could be further from the truth!
By our very nature, followers of Christ must share the Gospel with others. And this is not only in a formal sense (teaching Religious Ed, for example) but also in our daily lives. In fact, the vast majority of people who have come to know Christ and seek entrance into the Church through RCIA have done so because of the example of a person of faith who lived it each day.
Some may mistakenly think that this is the work of the "professionals" - priests, religious, Church employees, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that we normally do not get to interact with people who are seeking the answers unless they have first been inspired to see us by a relative, friend, co-worker or acquaintance. The true work of Evangelization begins long before the Church is formally involved. It begins with people interacting with people.
And this is where everyone has an important role. There are so many places in the "whole world" were you interact with people who have no grounding in faith. And your words and actions can show them the difference faith can make in their lives. But you cannot be afraid to show it and to speak about it. The so-called "separation of church and state" that gets so much press may restrict particular denominations and churches from interacting with people in certain ways and circumstances, but it does not - cannot prevent people of faith from living that faith wherever they are.
For too long we have permitted our voices to be silenced because of the lie that somehow speaking of our faith will impede the rights of someone else. Over the centuries, too many people have died refusing to be silenced for us to simply give in to those who would prevent us from voicing and living our faith everywhere we go. So, today's question is: "Into which part of the whole world will you go today, and how will you proclaim the Gospel to those you encounter?"

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