Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pass It On

Pass It On

October 24, 2012
Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power.  To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the Church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. (Ephesians 3:7-10)

“… Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:48b)


Give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name; Among the nations make known his deeds,
Proclaim how exalted is his name.  (Isaiah 12:4bcd)


As Paul is writing to the Ephesians, he says that he has been given the gift of God’s grace, in spite of being “the very least of all the holy ones.”  It’s not a gift to hold onto; it’s a gift to be shared.  And so Paul proclaims to all the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Once the Lord got hold of him on the Damascus road, there was no turning back.  Paul spent the rest of his life tirelessly traveling, preaching, founding churches, encouraging and admonishing these new Christians by means of visits and letters, and, ultimately, giving his life for the Gospel.

We are called to follow Paul’s example.  Every one of us has been touched by God’s grace.  It’s not ours to hoard.  We are all asked to go out and share that grace with those we meet.   Jesus reminds us of that in the parable in today’s Gospel reading, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much.”   

I have often thought about what it takes to be a successful evangelist.  Sometimes we’re not very successful.  I remember one of my teachers in junior high school taking several students to her church on a Wednesday night.  The preaching was openly anti-Catholic and heavy on hellfire and brimstone.  It made me want to run the other way!  But since we want to share God’s love, attempting to scare others into believing doesn’t seem very effective in the long run.  Cross that off the list.  My first roommate in seminary said that she stood on street corners and handed out religious tracts when she was in high school.  She didn’t think that did much, either, so strike through that approach, as well.

As I’ve pondered this over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that evangelism begins, not with any scripted game plan for bringing people to Christ, but with our personal convictions.  If you want to spread the Word, you have to be filled with love for the Gospel yourself.  Look at the apostle Paul.  No one could say he wasn’t full of love for the Lord!  Enthusiasm seems to beget enthusiasm.

We need to be so shaped by our faith that we are the kind of people others would like to be.  Remember the song “They’ll Know We are Christians by our Love?”  People will be attracted to the Gospel we preach if they see the fruits of the Spirit reflected in our actions.  The apostle Paul would never have been able to found as many Christian communities as he did if people hadn’t been drawn to something compelling about him and his faith.  Being a Christian in the first century was dangerous, even sometimes life-threatening, so he must have been very persuasive.


All of this can be summed up in the Cursillo saying, “Make a friend. Be a friend.  Bring a friend to Christ.”  When was the last time you intentionally set out to do that?  Is there anything in your own faith life or actions that needs attention in order for you to be a more effective evangelist?

We live in an increasingly secularized culture and all of our efforts are needed to make new disciples in Jesus’ name.

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