Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tuesday in the 2nd Week of Easter
Gossiping the Gospel

Readings: Acts 4:32-37; Psalm 93:1ab, 1cd-2, 5; John 3:7b-15

We speak only of what we know and witness only to what we have seen…

Many of us Catholics are reticent about sharing our faith with others, even though we know how important it is to do so. Often we are shy because we don’t think we know enough. We’re not sure about what we believe in. We feel we need some kind of re-fresher course – or perhaps even a fresh course – before we can actually speak to anyone about our faith. But who has the time or the energy to do this? Or so we may think. If what Jesus says to Nicodemus in the gospel today is true – if we are really only to speak of what we know – then we feel we cannot speak at all because we do not know. But is that really true?

Perhaps it is, at least to some extent. It is true that we could probably do a better job sharing our faith if we had all our facts at our fingertips. But we may wonder if that is the kind of knowledge that Jesus is speaking of. After all, isn’t it striking that in both readings today, the people who are speaking probably never had formal lessons in religion? And yet, in the gospel Jesus presumes to teach Nicodemus, who was probably an expert in the Law. While in the first reading we are told that the apostles speak with great power and were given great respect. Quite clearly, the kind of knowledge that they were drawing upon was not simply the kind one could read off a book. They were testifying to things they had experienced. Jesus was speaking out of his own vibrant relationship with his heavenly Father. The apostles were speaking out of their own experience of the Crucified and Risen Christ who continued to be present to them in the life that they shared in common. As we heard in the first reading, the whole group of believers was united, heart and soul.

If this is true, then perhaps we need to re-examine our response to the call to share our faith. Important as it is to bone-up on the Catechism, perhaps it’s just as important, if not more so, to find some way in which we can become more conscious of the ways in which God continues to grace us everyday with experiences of God’s love. And wherever these experiences are to be found – in prayer or work, in solitude or community – perhaps sharing our faith is really as simple as speaking about what we have seen and heard, of how, all around us, Christ continues to change hearts, to transform lives and to build communities.

I’m reminded of a book I’m reading, according to which the primary way that the gospel was spread in the second and third centuries was through the casual, informal witness of ordinary Christians. These went everywhere gossiping the gospel; they did it naturally, enthusiastically, and with the conviction of those who are not paid to say that sort of thing. Consequently, they were taken seriously, and the movement spread, notably among the lower classes.

How are we being called to gossip the gospel today?

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