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During his parish mission, Patrick Sullivan spoke of three languages of evangelization. These are truth, beauty and goodness. God is perfect truth, goodness and beauty. Hence, whenever we see goodness or truth or beauty in our world, it speaks to us something of God. In the beauty of nature – a waterfall or a sun set we encounter the majesty of God. The consistency of the Church’s moral teaching in a confusing and relativistic world helps us to see God is guiding her. The sacrifice and kindness of a Mother Teresa, a friend who is ready and available when we need them most – their goodness helps us see that God is with them. Some people are more attracted by Beauty than others. Some are more interested in the truth, yet I would argue that everyone is seeking “goodness” If they recognize goodness in us, they will recognize God.
Jesus Himself says, “They will know that you are my followers in that you love one another.” I have a friend whose father in law is Protestant. They would talk a lot about the faith and in the end the man was convinced about many Catholic truths – that Mary is the Mother of God, that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. However, he refused to convert. My friend would ask – “Don’t you want to receive the Eucharist?” The older gentleman said “Yes I would love to receive Communion, but I don’t want to leave my Church” When I go to my Church everyone knows my name and says hello. They ask me how I’m doing and genuinely care about the answer I give. When I go to the Catholic Church everyone ignores me. He could see the truth in the Catholic Church, but not goodness.
“They will know that you are my followers in that you love one another.” One of the greatest obstacles to evangelization is our failure to live this commandment of Jesus. So many people look for God in others Churches because they see the members love one another. “Love one another as I have loved you.” How can we love like Jesus?
Be humble. The first act of love that Jesus did for us is to become one of us. God the almighty became a small baby and grew up in an unimportant village in the far corner of the Roman Empire. He worked with his hands, he feasted with his neighbours. Sadly the image of Christians that is projected to the world is of people who are arrogant and aloof – people who think that they are better than everyone else and that they are here to save the world from damnation. Understandably people resent this image of Christianity. If we feel that we are better than someone, we cannot evangelize them. We must be genuinely humble. Patrick Sullivan’s speaks of how we cannot judge or criticize the people we are trying to evangelize – we must recognize their goodness. We must show an interest in what they are interested in – all things can be made holy because all things were created good by God. Jesus became one of us and shared in every aspect of human life except sin. As Christians we cannot be separated or above our contemporaries – we must be one of them.
Love is shown not in big words but in little deeds. Jesus paid attention to details. His first miracle was to make wine at a wedding. He noticed the crowds were hungry and asked the disciples to find bread for them. When the crowd was pushing on him, he noticed that the woman with the hemorage had touched him. Attention to details is a powerful way to show we care about someone. Remembering someones’ name, remembering their birthday or what type of icecream is their favourite, sending a personal message just to see how they are doing. These small details melt hearts.
Finally, love is generous. Jesus is the perfect example of generosity – he gave his whole life, his body and blood for us. We show our true concern and true care for others by being generous. Last week we spoke of generosity with our time. Patrick sullivan also speaks of other forms of generosity such as being willing to pick up the bill when we go out. These gestures show that we care for the other. When someone feels cared for, they listen – Theodore Rosevelt said: “Nobody cares what you know until they know you care” As Christians we must show the world we care.
“They will know that you are my followers by your love.