Monday, September 22, 2014

Evangelizing Resolutions

St. Vincent de Paul
"Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus."
(Phil 2:5)
Maybe it's just me, but it seems like I miss a lot of opportunities to evangelize.   
Don't get me wrong, if someone is asking an authentic question, I've got not problem talking about the faith handed down to us from the Apostles, or waxing poetic regarding the fact that God is Love.  But it seems like there are so many other moments when I could be doing a better job of witnessing to the reality of God's self-revelation in Jesus.
So, inspired by a few recent events and experiences of my friends and family, I plan on adding the following phrases into my regular repertoire at the start of this new school year:
  1. "I'll be praying for you."  One of my best friends, who also happens to be a great listener, has a totally natural way of responding to people with this phrase.  The other day an acquaintance ended up sharing his Job-like recent experiences--failed business venture and marriage, isolation from his children, health and work issues.  I listened intently, but was at a loss for words.  If had had this phrase on the tip of my tongue, it would have helped articulate what I was feeling from the bottom of my heart!

  2. "Please accept this in the name of Jesus."  Whenever we are in Chicago or New York (home of my fantastic in-laws), I like to keep some $1 bills or granola bars handy.  If a homeless person is asking for help, they receive a small token of support.  When they respond "God bless you," as they so often do, I try to look into their eyes and say thank you, secretly wondering, "Is that you, Lord?"  But what if my homeless brothers and sisters are looking for a sign as well?  In the future, it seems that this phrase would be a perfect fit for such situations, since it is ultimately Jesus who connects us with the poor and the poor with us.  
  3. "Would you want to pray with me?"  If number one above seems like a stretch, then this one might seem out of reach.  But maybe not.  One of our neighbors is going through chemo and radiation and has lost all of her hair; she tells the story about being in the grocery store and having a woman approach and ask whether she had cancer.  When she said yes, the woman asked, "Would you want to pray with me?"  Surprised but also touched, my neighbor agreed, and then they prayed for healing and hope in the middle of aisle #5.  My neighbor was deeply moved.  This wouldn't work in every situation, of course, but how about once in a while ("Would you like to pray the Lord's Prayer with me?")?!
  4. "Say YES to God's Will in each daily event."  A friend of mine describes this in terms of complete trust in divine Providence.  Rather than sitting around waiting for some supposedly bigger moments in the far-off future, this reminder might help me pay better attention to actual opportunities for sharing God's grace here and now.  As St. Vincent de Paul once noted, "A sure way for a Christian to grow rapidly in holiness is a conscientious effort to carry out God's Will in all circumstances and at all times."  What if the daily interruptions or distractions or surprise visits or chance encounters--which seem to throw off my plans--are actually God's Will for me?  Wouldn't I be more likely to bring the Gospel to bear in each situation?!
Maybe it's just me, but it seems that these resolutions would help with the cultivation of "the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus."  You may have other favorites of your own, but doesn't it make sense that the work of the New Evangelization will move forward through such simple efforts to nurture the Kingdom of God among us?