This week’s Gospel passage features a fundamental point. “Go and make disciples of all nations” – Jesus says, and he directs these words to all of us. Thus we are all given the call to “evangelise”, that is, to witness Jesus and to bring His spirit to each person that we encounter. The question is, how exactly can we make disciples of all nations? In our secular time in particular, what can we do in order to truly be ‘fishers of men’ – how can we be bridges that guide others to our Lord?
Perhaps the first thing we need to keep in mind is Jesus’ promise that he will be “with us always, to the very end of the age”. We need to remember this, especially during times that feel and appear dire. Jesus is with us still, and it is his presence in particular – and that of the Holy Spirit – that can precisely help us be bridges and evangelisers.
Evangelising doesn’t mean knocking on doors and talking to people about Christ. It doesn’t mean grabbing a megaphone and inviting people to “convert”, as we sometimes see individuals do in the street. Rather, true evangelising requires much more subtlety. We need to understand that there are different ways of evangelising and that, sometimes, to evangelise strictly requires us to not “mention” the words “Jesus or God”. This is because, sometimes evangelising is mainly done through our being a witness and through our behaviour. Sometimes, the most authentic way to show Jesus is to live and be like Him in our personhood. This requires us to be temples of the Holy Spirit; it requires us to live a life of prayer and of sincere communion with the Trinity. Think of Mother Theresa – very often it was her love that brought God to others, not her speech about Him!
With this in mind, we need to also recall Peter 3:15, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”. Another important aspect of evangelising is our being able to provide explanations and reasons as to why we believe and have faith. Naturally, this all depends on our journey with God – but it is very important to be able to give reasonable answers to those who ask us why we are Christians. This, in a sense, is another way of being a witness – and it is especially needed in our culture – since there are many who are not believers, and who therefore need to see the reasonability of our faith. Here, our reasons can range from scientific ones to personal ones, and even to more philosophical and scriptural ones. Our God is a God of knowledge too – so it would be helpful for us to understand how the sciences and our faith relate. One can for example consult some of the major contemporary scientists on this matter – such as Robert Spitzer, Seymore Garte, and Yoav Vaknin. All three are Catholic and beautifully show how science and faith go hand in hand.
Finally, a point regarding the journey which we are together walking towards – Pentecost. We are still in the period of Easter. We are celebrating Christ risen and are revelling in the joy and peace that His presence brings. And as we do all this, we are called to live lives that open us more to the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit – the “bearer of truth”, as Jesus refers to him. Without the Spirit, the sacraments wouldn’t be possible – and our capacity to have faith would not be possible either! So let us try to be more open to the Spirit, let us pray for His gifts so that we may become better witnesses and, as a result, better evangelisers:
You are the salt of the earth! You are the light of the world! See to it that the people are edified by your example, by the purity of your lives, by the moderation of your conduct, and the brilliance of your holiness! – Pope St. Pius V.