Monday, August 24, 2015

"I am a link in a chain"

So, what does "everyday evangelization" look like in your life?

Over the past few years, for me, it has been a matter of first letting myself be evangelized.  That is, it has been a process of opening myself to a deeper encounter with the basic proclamation of the Gospel as Good News--both for me personally and for the whole world.

Throughout the past couple of years, "everyday evangelization" has also been closely tied to a prayer written by Bl. John Henry Newman:

God has create me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.

I have my mission--
I may never know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.

I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught.

I shall do good.  I shall do His work.
I shall be an angel of peace,
a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it--
if I do but keep His Commandments...

It seems that the idea of being a "link in a chain" fits nicely with "everyday evangelization," since I typically envision the people with whom I am directly connected--such as my amazing family, wonderful friends, and committed colleagues.  Their inspiring influence helps bond me more closely to the Church, supporting and encouraging me.

However, the phrase in the prayer that "I may never know it in this life" has slowly started to gnaw at me in recent months: What if the chain of connections is not as linear as I tend to imagine?  What if it turns out that God has created each of us to have countless connections, in so many different directions that it is beyond our capacity to fully understand? What if I'm a link in a chain that's shaped more like a net or a web than a few simple straight lines?

And what if this chain-linked web of of connections is actually the mysterious Kingdom of God--emerging organically in countless different directions, though always one link at a time?

Pope Francis has used an additional image to help illustrate the way that each of our personal missions might contribute to the building of a "whole which is greater than the part".  He writes: "Here our model is not the sphere, which is no greater than its parts, where every point is equidistant from the center, and there are no differences between them. Instead, it is the polyhedron, which reflects the convergence of all its parts, each of which preserves its distinctiveness" (EG, n. 236).

As we respond to Christ's call for an "everyday evangelization" wherever we are, let's stay open to this mysterious convergence of connections in our daily lives.  Let's consider the possibility that we might be the only bond of connection that someone has with the web of relations which make up the mystical body of Christ.  

And let's remember that, although we might not fully understand our place in the ever-expanding polyhedron during this life, we shall be told it in the next!