Dear Friends in Christ,
There is an understanding that religion and politics are not discussed in polite society. This is probably because when they are raised, invariably, the conversation gets rather heated. Sex and death used to have the same effect, but nowadays as a society we seem more comfortable at least talking about sex, albeit in a superficial way.
Nowadays the idea of ‘evangelism’ also carries a certain taboo element. For sure, there are conferences on the subject and books written, and the occasional Sunday homily on our call to spread the gospel, but how seriously the subject is taken is debatable. This call is the theme of our Gospel passage today: the commissioning by Jesus of seventy-two disciples to go and preach the gospel.
The message that we do often hear is that if we are good, kind and loving, then that is evangelisation. St. Francis of Assisi famously said: Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words’, highlighting that witness whether by action or word is crucial. We definitely don’t want to come across as ‘Bible bashers’ or over the top’, and we definitely do not want to impose our faith on anyone. Nevertheless, there is no escaping the fact that sooner or later our faith invites us to pass the Good News on to others.
John Lennon famously said: Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We are more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first – rock and roll or Christianity.’ While Lennon had a point, the passing of almost four decades since his death had shed a different perspective on his comment. As Christians we know that the raison d’être of the Church is to grow and spread to the four corners of the earth. Our parishes are meant to grow and flourish, not stagnate and be closed
No one is saying that sharing our faith is easy. It isn’t – it requires effort, creativity, passion, enthusiasm and conviction. The key is in the name: the gospel is Good News. If we don’t experience it as Good News, we don’t share it as Good News. The Holy Spirit is the One who creates within us as burning desire to both witness to and share our faith. We pray for this blessing and anointing of faith.