So, this is a few weeks late, but I wanted to share something that struck me about the Gospel passage two weeks ago (Second Sunday in Ordinary Time). I think this passage has a great deal to tell us about evangelisation. Have you ever stopped to consider how amazing it is that Simon-Peter, the man who was to become one of Christ’s most passionate disciples, and the man Christ Himself appointed as the first ever leader of the Catholic Church by granting him the keys to the Kingdom, had to first be brought to Christ by his brother?
It’s pretty incredible to think that if Andrew had not taken the opportunity to share his discovery with his brother and to bring his brother to Christ, then things would have panned out very differently. Sure, maybe Jesus would have simply chosen a different Pope, but you can’t deny that Peter played a very important role at some critical points in the Gospels. As I re-read the passage a short while ago as preparation for writing this blog entry I realised there was even more to the story than that, though. It was not just a case of Andrew introducing Simon-Peter to Jesus – Andrew first had to be brought to Christ himself.
I have to admit that I have never put much reflection into the bible passages where Jesus calls His disciples. I guess they’re the passages that are done to death in scripture classes at school, and so I never really stopped to look past their literal meaning to anything deeper. When I read this the other week I realised this passage sends a strong message to all of us who profess ourselves to be Christians. This passage tells us how important it is for each of us to share our love of Christ with those around us (not to mention our knowledge of His love for each of us). I don’t mean to say we should all start standing on street corners proclaiming the Good News to all and sundry. In fact, this passage seems to indicate that that is actually not a great approach to evangelising at all. I’m not even saying that you have to try to bring Jesus into every conversation you have. Rather, I am saying that we need to be proud of our Catholic (or Christian, for those believers of different denominations) faith, and stop downplaying it or covering it up out of fear of what others will think. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends that you’re going to be late for the party or barbecue on Saturday night because you are going to Mass first. Don’t tell your friends that you’re sending your kids to a Catholic school simply because the school has a good reputation. Don’t make excuses about why you go to Mass if anyone questions it. You don’t have to justify yourself, but there’s no denying that “Because I’m a Christian and it’s important to me” is a much more powerful answer than some excuse about how you go to keep your family happy or that that’s just what you do, or you don’t really know…
The Gospel passage indicates the importance of being proud of our beliefs and sharing them with others without being pushy, and how it is through being living witnesses in our own lives and through investing in personal relationships with others that we are most likely to bring others to Christ. It was in such a way that John the Baptist was able to point Andrew to Christ, and that Andrew himself was then able to bring Peter to know Him. Neither John nor Andrew tried forcing religion down anyone’s throat – they each merely professed what they believed (“Look, here is the Lamb of God!”; “We have found the Messiah”) to someone they were close to. Surely each of us is capable of that. Who knows – just like Peter that person you have the courage to witness to could just be the next great Saint!