“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
Do you think the words that Jesus spoke in today’s gospel apply to you? Actually, the first reading today and the gospel both have to do with evangelization. We’ve heard about evangelization ever since we became a Catholic, whether that was while we were growing up as a child, or later as an adult that entered the church. Many people think that evangelization has to do with missionaries. Well, it does. Peter and Paul were the most famous missionaries the Catholic church has ever seen, as you can tell by today’s first reading. But, Jesus was not just talking to the early church when he said to “Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” He was also talking to us.
Our world has never been more in need of evangelization than it does right now. We don’t have to look far.Our own homes, families, friends, the communities we live in and most especially the country we live in, are in desperate need of experiencing the love of Jesus Christ and the understanding of the truths that he taught us in the gospel. The problem is that we can not blend into the woodwork in the societies that we live in and think things will change for the better by our example alone.
Today’s first reading talks about pride. Pride is something we are all susceptible to falling victim to.Everyone seems to want expensive new homes, cars, clothing and to be shown a lot of respect for their position in life. If we do the same things everyone else is doing, how will anyone know we are Catholics though? Sometimes when we want to be accepted by others, we will not speak up and tell anyone what we think about abortion, or gay marriage, or couples living together out of wedlock, etc. They might not like us if we state our views too strongly, especially if it is our own family members or friends. We do not want to lose their love or friendship, so we tone it down a bit when we do say anything about our Catholic views on these issues.
Peter tells us in the first reading today to humble ourselves. “All of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another. “To become an evangelizer means to be willing to accept disapproval and rejection by those we care about. To be humble enough to be willing to let people get upset with us or even dislike us because of our beliefs. There is no easy way to speak up for what is right, or to speak up against what is wrong. If there was, Jesus would have found it.
Peter tells us that “Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour.Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. “That’s hard to remember sometimes when you are suffering rejection or disapproval from those you care about, but it is true that Catholics everywhere throughout the world are dealing with the same things you are. It’s a lonely place to be sometimes, when others disapprove of you, get mad at you or even quit talking to you, because they are upset with how you feel about things. A little tact goes a long way in having discussions with others about the things they are doing that are wrong though.
Peter tells us “after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.” And that is the truth.He really does. It seems like things do not get better until we’ve gone through the worst. Anyone that has ever had to deal with a serious family problem and come out on the other side understands this.God gives us the grace that we need to handle all of the situations and circumstances of our lives. And yes, we usually do come out a stronger person because of it, because God was with us all along.
However, Peter ends his letter today saying to “Greet one another with a kiss of love. “And “Peace to all of you who are in Christ. “This is where we also find support in life. No matter where you go in the Catholic church throughout the world, you will find a home and others who think and believe the same way you do. That’s the beauty of our faith.Our brothers and sisters are everywhere! And what joy it is to meet them. There are no strangers in our church, only friends we have not met yet. We should remember this when we go to mass at our own parish this week too! The parish community can be such a source of support, of peace, joy and love in our lives. We are never alone and all we need to do is reach out to those around us, for no one has too much love! Mother Teresa said children were like flowers, it is impossible to have too many. Well, love and friendship are like roses that perfume and enrich our lives, with happiness and joy.
We are simply called to share this love that we have found in Jesus Christ, and in our Catholic community with other people too. The more, the merrier! There is room for everyone at the Lord’s table. Evangelization is just that simple. Seek to share the love and friendship that you have found with Jesus Christ and the Catholic community that you live in, with others. You will be so glad you did when you see the happiness on their faces when they at last find their home with Jesus and in your faith community.