Consider a hypothetical case: A Catholic organization, men or women, was told not to discuss money during their meeting. They could speak about any topic, except money. Well, they found that there wasn’t much on the agenda. 95% of their time together had been spent on the topic of money.
Unfortunately, the situation is the same among most Catholic organizations. The money is used for good causes of course. Yet, we have become groups of “do-gooders” rather than evangelizers. We all find security in “doing” rather than “being”. Jesus sent seventy-two disciples to prepare the places that He intended to visit. The Lord knew that the people were hungry for His words of freedom. Yet, He wanted disciples to pave the way. Obviously, the disciples did not need much—no money bag, no sack, no sandals—that meant “low budget”. They didn’t take a Bible because there was no Bible. The Gospels had not yet been written. They were the Gospel. The message was inside of them. Since they were very much in love with Jesus Christ, they went. The disciples were willing to share their personal encounter with Christ and how He had changed their life. They didn’t need a book. Witnessing is the most powerful form of preaching. The disciples were willing to speak with strangers for the sake of the Kingdom. Their goal was not to be confrontational but peaceful. Their first words upon entering a home were, “Peace to this household”. Jesus said, “Stay with them”. “Do not move from one house to another.” No house hopping. That would smell of trying to look for their comfort rather than the salvation of the listeners. We all like “good stuff”. Undoubtedly the homes they visited were of different economic levels. The instruction from Jesus was “stay put.”
The disciples were also warned of inevitable rejection. Not everyone was ready. Not everyone is ready to accept the message of the Gospel. The tendency is to “sugar coat” the message to fit our way of thinking. Many use the Gospel as just another way to be right. They remember the passages they like and never quote the passages that they do not like. With Jesus it’s all or nothing. Our Faith is not like a cafeteria where we get to pick and choose. If someone wanted to pick and choose Jesus said, “Leave them alone.” Go into the street so that everyone can hear you say, “We don’t even want your dirt on our feet. Just know this, Poor you for closing the door on your salvation. You are the losers.”
The disciples were feeling pretty good about themselves. They got to see miracles, were affirmed by many, they even had authority over demons. Jesus told them, “Do not be distracted.” Keep the focus. The extraordinary stuff is not the goal of Christianity. Continue to help people come closer to God—to have faith—to love one another. “Be happy that I called you.” “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.” Indeed only a few are willing to get their hands dirty. Most folks just want the party. Holy Mass is the party. Coming to Mass should be a pleasure. However, the work of Christianity is out there—where we live, work, and play. Spreading the Gospel happens in conversations. Rather than talking about the almighty dollar we can talk about almighty God. We can share how Jesus is our friend with whom we speak every day. If our Faith has made a difference in our lives, then there should be evidence. The main evidence should be to the degree that we love others, particularly our family. As we celebrate our independence as a country, we might consider independence from slavery to sin; freedom from the addictions that control our bodies; liberty from the apparatuses which we refuse to live without. We would do well to discern why worries keep us awake at night. Freedom can be measure in many ways. The freedom that Jesus offers us is for eternity.
We rejoice in our relationship with Jesus Christ—that He has called us to be His disciples.