Editor’s note: Today we welcome Mike Hays to the New Evangelizers blogging team!
For the majority of my life, church has been a comfortable place. Show up, pray, learn, communion, sing (lip-sync), and go home. Repeat next Sunday. I thought that was being a good Catholic, the road to the pearly gates paved with smooth stones.
Then the New Evangelization initiative came from the Holy Father. It rocked my comfort zone and kicked an obstacle or two in my heavenly path.
Soon after, with my newly opened ears, I heard the Gospel which Jesus called His apostles in Matthew 4:19 and also found the similar story in Mark 1:17 and Luke 5:10. If it’s in three of the four Gospels, you know it’s important. Jesus invited his future apostles with, “Come follow Me.”
Well…I can do that. In fact, I figured I was doing a pretty darn good job of following Jesus strolling down my smooth, heavenly path.
Then Jesus did something He always did so well; He tossed in a zinger. He threw a 95 mph slider on the outside corner with the count full. He added, “and be fishers of men” to His “Come follow Me.” invitation. Oh, did Jesus just say it’s not good enough just to follow him? Did He just say we must also do work as well? He sure did. He told us to go out and spread His word, He told us to evangelize, to fish men.
Evangelize. The very word scares me.
What does it even mean? When I hear the word, I think of the St. John the Evangelist picture my mom hung with the other Hays sibling’s saint namesake’s pictures in the hallway. The picture showed St. John standing very saintly with a book in one hand and a pen in the other. As a kid, I formulated a vision of St. John following Jesus around everywhere, recording everything in his book.
Is that what evangelization is? I wasn’t sure.
Reflecting on Pope John Paul II’s and Pope Benedict’s words on the topic of New Evangelization, the lightning bolt struck home.
Evangelization is simple. God is asking us to be Catholic at all times. Show Catholic in all we do and everywhere we do it. Spread the word by living the word.
So I asked myself, what can I to do to evangelize?
Sing the praises? I don’t think so. If the Good Lord wishes for His sheep to be able to hear His word, then my deafness-inducing vocal skills are out and my lip-syncing skill would just be cheating.
Perform music? No way. My musical repertoire, which consists only of being able to play the “Da da da da daaaaa” from Close Encounters of the Third Kind on the Wurlitzer organ, falls well short.
Speaking? My speaking skills, honed through years of coaching and parenting, inevitably reduces itself to the common denominator of a big guy ranting (and occasionally going PG-13 and beyond), raving, and scaring the living daylights out of people.
So that leaves writing. Perhaps that’s a talent I can give to New Evangelization? God’s gift passed to me through years of training from the Order of Saint Benedict (O.S.B) nuns in Catholic elementary school. Writing. That is something I can bring to the table. Maybe this is why the nuns of the O.S.B. prayed overtime on my behalf.
So I will attempt to evangelize through the written word. I can’t sing, can’t dance and an oratory may crash the boundaries of good and decent language choices.
But, as imperfect as I am, God loves me. As many mistakes and failures I make, He forgives. All He asks is “Come follow me”, and live His word to be a fisher of men.
Copyright © 2012, Mike Hays