Do you ever wish that evangelization would be as easy as just stating that Jesus is the Lamb of God? This is what we see in today’s Gospel, a statement that is beautiful in its simplicity as well as strong in its content. If only we could go back to this time when it was simple to proclaim the truth, a time when not everybody was offended by bringing up religion, a time when the Catholic church could flourish without all the notes of scandal and hypocrisy.
Of course, I am being sarcastic here. The early church had just as many problems, if not more when it came to evangelization. I think we sometimes can feel so bad for ourselves that we convince ourselves that bringing people into a true relationship with God is just impossible in today’s culture. Of course, that is not the case.
So why was it so easy for John in the Gospel? I think the ultimate answer is two simple words. Relationship and trust. John had a relationship that was deep enough that those he was reaching out to trusted him wholeheartedly. It’s as if they could say, “If John believes this is the Messiah, then we believe as well. John would not lead us astray.”
A relationship is crucial to evangelization, conversion rarely happens in a box. There are rare cases of some of the Saints who had mystical conversions but for the most part, the conversion process starts through a genuine relationship with someone who is trusted.
Of course, true conversion comes from God himself, but it is hard for people today to get there if they first don’t enter your own personal story of what Christ has done with you. I have had to keep this in mind as I teach RCIA. It is easy to slip into the mindset that everyone in the class is just a number we want in the church as opposed to a real person who we want to fall in love with Jesus.
I know all of this can sound base but I know I need the reminder. It’s easy to trust people to “the system.” I see people in Mass and think, “well I could talk with them and welcome them or they could just join our welcome programs.” So much of what we do as a society is hope that other people will handle it or reach out.
In this New Year, I am going to try to be intentional with all of my interactions with people. Instead of immediately labeling them and fitting them into a box that gives me the excuse to not reach out in a kind way, I am going to make sure I try to build a relationship.
With relationship comes trust and with trust comes the ability to enter into the fun conversations. Then you can truly dive into the deep questions. Why are we here? Is there a higher purpose? Does God exist? What has He done in your life?
From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!
Tommy Shultz is a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan. In that role, he is committed to coaching parishes and dioceses on authentic and effective Catholic communication. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.