“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
These are the last words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Matthew. They are, if you will, the mission of the entire Church. It is the very nature of the Catholic Church to evangelize, which means to spread the Good News of the mercy and love of God, extending an invitation to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Very often, however, Catholics will think that it is a the duty of programs within the Church to share the faith. Or perhaps the mission of the priests who preach and the nuns who teach. While these programs or “professionals” are important, who can best share the faith with your friends whom you know personally? It is you!
When we think of faith, too often, we think of it as a list of moral teachings. While the teachings are important, the fullness of the faith is found in a living relationship with Jesus Christ. We all have friends and people whom we know well. We keep these friendships alive through our regular interaction with these people. Then, if we want to introduce someone to our friends, what do we do? First we tell the new person about our friend, but rarely does this help them become friends. The best thing is to do is to introduce the new person and your friend. Convince the new person to spend time with your friend and they will get to know each other...and the same applies for Jesus.
Faith is a living relationship that you have with Jesus and we want to introduce people to Jesus, not just tell people facts about Jesus. So how do we introduce people to Jesus? The same way we were introduced to Jesus...through the life of the Church. We got to know Jesus through the Sacraments, through the prayers, through the community gathered, through the Holy Scriptures with the guidance of Holy Tradition. And if that is not enough, there are so many writings from Saints and people alive today that help us to introduce Jesus to others. But the greatest tool to help faith come alive in the heart of others is you. You have the privilege and you are the most effective means of sharing the faith of Jesus with others...to share not just “the faith” but to share “your faith.”
Fr Nathan LaLiberte