April 16th, 2008
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Like a great many Catholics, I’ve always been uncomfortable
wearing my religion on my sleeve . As a young religion reporter,
I occasionally had to cover gatherings of Evangelicals who gave
testimony and were in your face about whether you had been born
again, accepted Jesus, etc.
The first time I heard people publicly confessing their sins and
telling how they had found the Lord, I felt like I was watching
them undress. When they would demand to know the state of my soul
before I could interview them, I had to strongly resist the urge
to say MYOB. It’s just the way we were raised, I guess.
Today’s reading from Acts about how Barnabas and Saul “proclaimed
the word of God in the Jewish synagogues” makes me wonder
how I would have responded to them. Probably a lot like I reacted
to the people giving testimony. Most likely, I would have walked
away, embarrassed for these nut cases.
Yet I believe as strongly as any Evangelical that Jesus is the light
of the world who came to dispel our darkness. I believe all of us
who share this belief have an obligation to help spread it. So how
do we reconcile these two positions?
Today’s reading from John offers a clue. “For I did
not come to condemn the world but to save the world,” Jesus
Surely there are many ways we can participate in that effort, most
importantly by living the Gospel in our daily lives in countless
small ways. If I am a Christian, I have to make an effort to forgive
those who have hurt me and to seek forgiveness from those I have
injured. I have to try to reach out to others in the ways that Jesus
suggested through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
I’ll never be comfortable aggressively proclaiming my Christianity
or trying to push it onto others. But surely Jesus will understand
if I try to overcome my many weaknesses and live as someone who
takes his teachings seriously.
to the writer of this reflection.
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