Share the Gopsel

Latin Mass: Sexaguesima
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today Our Lord gives us the parable of the sower. The sower goes out to sow the seed, he spreads it all about. Unlike the flat fields of Illinois, fields of Palestine are uneven, hilly, rocky  here and there, paths winding through them – the sower throws the seed, but whether a seed will thrive depends on a lot of things.   

Now Our Lord says, that the seed is the Word of God.[i]  Jesus himself is the ‘Word.’  ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ Christ is the Word, which is scattered like seed to people. So if the seed is Christ, who are the sowers?  That would be us. We are to be the sowers of the seed, we are to be the messengers of the Gospel to the world.  

Of those who encounter the gospel in us,  many will not accept it, but some will, and they will bear fruit!  

Pope Benedict once said,[ii] ‘sometimes we tend to reduce the term “charity” to only humanitarian aid.  But it is important to remember, he says,  that the greatest work of charity is evangelization.  There is no action more beneficial to one’s neighbor  than to introduce him to a relationship with God.’  

I recently read Pope Francis’ long Apostolic Exhortation,  Evangelii Gaudium. It is clear, that what governs the heart of this Holy Father  is that we must spread the gospel, we must evangelize. And he wants us on offense, not on defense.  
If we want people to see the beauty of the Catholic religion, let them see us helping the poor, visiting the sick – if we want people to be attracted to our Faith, and see that God is alive in Mother Church, then let them see that we extend a hand of friendship to people of other religions.  What drives this Pope, is evangelization.   

As Pope Benedict said, the highest form of charity is evangelizing our neighbor,  and this means introducing the person to a relationship with God.
A young woman was going through a crisis in her life. She poured out her heart to a friend: ‘I am just so depressed, I feel lost – I’m moving out from my boyfriend, that’s over.  Now the doctor says I have this serious illness –  everything is just going wrong for me – I …. sort of feel….  like I need God in my life. But I’ve never had any religion.’
Now this friend of hers says: ‘You need to talk to Gale, the neighbor two houses over. She’s very Catholic – you know daily Mass, the whole thing.  well, she’s easy to talk to and she’s helped a lot of people.   

That person, who people immediately think of to help someone – we have to be that person.  We have to be known for being a person who loves God.   

I was told that a man was determined to make the Catholic Faith very clear for others, so he wrote down in a list all the things you have to do to be a Catholic.   

The list had all the moral laws that must be followed, the dogmas that must be believed – it was very thorough.  And near the bottom he thought he should add a paragraph which said that we are children of God, that he is our Father, and that even though we screw up,  we can go back to him because he wants to forgive us in the blood of Christ and bring us one day to heaven.   

Well here is the problem – this last paragraph is supposed to be at the TOP of the list, this is the main thing a person should find out from us.  

Pope John Paul II said:[iii] “there must be no lessening of the drive to preach the Gospel” to those who are far from Christ, “because this is the first task of the Church”. And the main message we need to communicate to the lost souls around us is: ‘Jesus has died for you, to take away your sins. Allow this Lord into your life, get to know him by daily prayer, and – let’s have that cup of coffee – friendship is how we evangelize.  

At one of our recent priest-days with Cardinal George, they had a speaker, a professor from the Kellogg School of Management – Mrs. Lisa Fortini-Cambell,[iv]  ‘Kellog School of Management?’ – I wondered.  NOW WHAT are we going to listen to?  Well, she started out by telling us, that her mother thought Catholics were rigid and uncaring. Her father, a scientist, had long ago left the Catholic faith, her best friend loathed all organized religion. So – this was the world in which she grew up. Yet by her encounters along the way of life with some wonderful Catholics, she eventually has become Catholic.  

The talk she gave was about HOW a person is converted to the Faith.  As she said, persuading someone to make a small change in life is not easy, but it can be done. Business spend a lot trying to get you to change your brand of toothpaste.   But persuading someone to make a big change – this is hard. How easy is it to persuade your sister to get out of a destructive relationship, or to get your alcoholic friend to join AA?  We reason and argue with them, but nothing.  Then? – Something happens.    

Your sister is betrayed in a lie by her loverboy;  your brother nearly dies in an accident from drinking –  and then the change you’ve desired suddenly happens all by itself.  

So how do we bring someone to turn their heart to Christ? As she explained, the arguing and moralizing does little.  What we have to do, is prepare the ground-work – ’till the soil,’ until God’s grace opens the door. That’s what happened to her.  

St. Paul says that we ourselves  must spread the fragrance of Christ everywhere.[v]  The girl I mentioned whose life was in crisis,  God’s grace was working there, but that Catholic neighbor was the key because she had for years been spreading the fragrance of the gospel of Christ.  
We may not be the final link in the chain; we may be the guidepost along the way for someone. As St. Paul says, ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered, but it is God who gives the growth.[vi]   

Pope Benedict had said that for faith to grow today,  we must lead persons we meet to come in contact with the beautiful, with the beauty of Christ.[vii]   

May the dear Mother of God help us; Mary, help us to be effective sowers of the word of God in the field of our world.  

Entrusted to the prayers of St. Margaret of Cortona

 


[i] He tells of 3 things that can prevent the seed from growing: love of pleasures in this life, giving in to temptation, and the devil. Put another way, the world, the flesh, and the devil are the enemies of the hearers of the Word.

[ii] Pope Benedict’s Lenten message, 2013

[iii] Evangelii Gaudium # 15

[iv] ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – Everyday Evangelization’ – Lisa Fortini-Campbell, given to the Presbyerate of Chicago, June 18, 2013.

[v] 2 Cor 2:14

[vi] 1 Cor 3:6

[vii] The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI, Emery De Gaal, p. 6.

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