Those can sound like scary words. I try to picture myself a street preacher, or going to a ravaged inner city, and I feel very, very anxious. I protest that I cannot do such things, I'm not made for such work. Could God really be calling me so far out of my comfort zone? On Copacabana Beach, our Holy Father spoke a message of getting messy and shaking things up; simplifying and going back to basics. The last bit I can do; the first bit makes me nervous.
But Pope Frances also told us to have courage. "Follow the Lord with courage right to the end. You are never alone!" he told the gathered millions during the Way of the Cross.
Do not be afraid. How to answer this call of going and spreading the faith will be different for each of us, but we each of us can - and must - do so. We each have gifts the world so urgently needs. We each of us is a beautiful and unique reflection of God's love and we must share it with the world.
Do not be afraid. Pray. Pray for the courage to be bold, and pray for the wisdom to know how to make use of your gifts for the good of souls.
First, you must encounter Christ personally. You cannot share what you do not have. Meet Him on the Cross. It is our crucified Lord who is with the poor, the hungry, the persecuted, the disillusioned. It is your crucified Lord who is with you in your moments of pain and doubt and loneliness.
Go and share Christ. Wherever you are in life, there are people who need the gift of faith. Sharing Christ with the family is vital, as the family is where faith is formed. We all have family - children, cousins, nieces and nephews, step-brothers and sisters, in-laws, great-aunts and uncles, God parents.
Whether we leave our homes to go to work or run errands, we encounter people every day for whom you may be the only source of light. Not the slums of Rio, but still a soul deserving to know its dignity.
|The Gospel: relevant to all peoples|
Approach people with a spirit of openness, without prejudice. Be willing to hear what that person has to tell you. But when it comes to the point, do not be afraid to offend with the Truth. Compromise in matters of faith and morals - in matters of sin - is not love.
Bringing someone to an encounter with Christ needn't be dramatic. If we are true to ourselves, courageous in faith, and generous with our gifts, it will happen naturally, and probably without our being aware of it. The most important thing is that we be willing to place our hands and feet at the service of God as He wills.