first reading for today as Paul began to explain to them the truth of what God expected from us in worship. For the first 13 years of my Christian walk I was a protestant. I didn't even know what that meant to be honest. What was I protesting? All I knew about Catholicism was that they were different and according to the pastor at the church I was attending "weren't even real Christians." As far as I was concerned, everyone else had it wrong.. we had it right.
Paul though came into that situation speaking the truth. He met them where they were, not where he felt they should be. He didn't attack their faith and condemn it. He simply pointed it towards the truth those men and women were trying to find. Not everyone was open to that truth of course, some simply scoffed and ignored him. Others though were converted and joined him. We can learn a lot from that can't we? Apologetics doesn't need to be a heated argument, it doesn't need to be an attack to expose the flaws of another's beliefs... what it needs to be is a gentle lamp that illuminates the path to truth. That's why the Catechism says: The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life." (CCC 843)
We meet others at points of trust, where they agree with us. First and foremost we must establish a relationship. Relationships are built on that trust right? Every religion is out of the same desire, even if the answers and methods are flawed. That desire is to fill that hole in our soul, that yearning for God. Even atheism I would contest is more a protestation that is out of that emptiness felt inside. So we begin there. Not at the differences which simply create even more friction, even more division. Then we build on that, slowly, logically, reasonably. Not everyone is going to convert, not everyone is going to agree, but as Blessed Mother Teresa said, “God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful.” In my case though, that's how God reached me. Slowly, logically, reasonably.. not through attacks, but by shedding more and more light into my mind about who He truly is.
The thing is though, the Gospel reminds us of something paramount to all of this. None of this is possible, none of this should be attempted, without first bringing it to prayer. The Holy Spirit must be involved in everything we do. It does not matter how eloquent you are in your speech, how logical you are in your arguments, how well respected or liked you are; if God is not the primary mover.. then nothing can be moved. He will remind us of the words to use, and he will plant seeds in their heart. This Gospel is not our own to be used for our own means... but rather it is something which belongs to Him. "He will take from what is mine, to declare it to you." It is this third person of the trinity who does the greater work in our evangelization, it is he who prepares not only the soil but the farmer.
So are you letting him give you the tools to till the soil? Are you letting him choose the spot to plant his garden? In Cursillo we have this concept, pray first.. then ask. Are you doing that when it comes to spreading the Gospel? In our society we have this notion that we should leave other people alone, let them do whatever they want whenever they want, as long as it's in the privacy of their own lives and doesn't affect me. There are certain issues though that I think we should not... cannot remain silent on.. because even behind closed doors they harm the fabric of souls, ripping society apart from the inside. The thing is, are we speaking out with God at our backs? Or trying to go it alone? The greatest gift we have been given to strengthen us in this battle is the Eucharist... by the power of that same Holy Spirit that Jesus said would be sent, the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ... what more powerful way can he indeed take what belongs to Christ and declare it to us, than to present Christ to us.. and is there any way to be more powerfully equipped than to receive Christ himself? Run to the altar in prayer first, then go out into the world bringing about the change which God wills.
His servant and yours,
"He must increase, I must decrease."