Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thursday in the 3rd Week of Easter
Readiness for the Drawn

Readings: Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 66:8-9, 16-17, 20; John 6:44-51

Coincidentally, our readings today help us to continue our reflection on evangelization that we began yesterday. Apart from it being a long word, and difficult to pronounce, we sometimes find ourselves shying away from evangelization because it poses a considerable challenge to us. As a senior priest told some of us the other day, when commenting on the difficulties of preaching a homily, not only must you have something to say, but you must also know how to say it. And we might add that when sharing our faith, we need also to know when to do it. Aren’t we sometimes afraid that if we were to say the wrong thing, or in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, instead of converting people to the faith, we might turn them off forever?

All this is true, of course. When we consider the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in the first reading, for example, it’s quite clear that the eunuch’s conversion is aided in no small measure by Philip’s ability to say the right thing at the right time and in the right way. Not only does Philip appear just when the eunuch has a question concerning a passage of scripture, but Philip is also able to respond in such a way that the eunuch is led to ask for baptism. It does seem like a tough act for us to follow, doesn’t it?

And yet, the thing that stands out most in the story is not really the considerable ability of Philip. Neither is it the obvious openness of the Ethiopian eunuch to receive the Good News. What stands out most is the truth of Jesus’ words in the gospel: no one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me. More than any human capability and talent, what stands out most in the readings is the desire and power of God to draw people to God’s self. It is God’s Spirit who draws the Ethiopian eunuch to ponder over the scriptures and to seek instruction. Just as it is God’s Spirit who leads Philip to offer guidance to the eunuch. It is God who, through the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, continually draws people to God’s self, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

To evangelize, then, is really to participate in this ongoing work of God. Ultimately we are not really the ones who convert others. That would be a burden too much for us to bear. Instead, we are called to do what the angel tells Philip to do in the first reading: be ready to set out… Be ready to share your faith when the opportunity presents itself. Be ready to be led by the Spirit to those being drawn by the Father to the Son. Be ready…

Are we?

1 comment:

  1. Harry in my neighborhood group was always asking the most difficult, awkward questions. On the face of it, it seemed as though his motive in asking those questions was to to prove that he's right or to put down anyone who attempted to respond. And yet, through the eyes of faith (and the prompting of the Holy Spirit), Barry in the group recognised a searching / longing for the Truth on the part of Harry. Barry was extremely patient with Harry in answering his questions, putting up with his cynicism. Today, we are all blessed with a committed Catholic in Harry.

    To the less discerning, that opportunity to evangelize Harry would have been lost had Barry not sensed that Harry was genuinely searching for the Truth. Which means that, while God draws everyone to Himself, those of us who are called to be ready to set out, to share our faith experiences, should always be alert to the occasions (no matter how odd) that we are called to bear witness.