Are You Afraid to Talk About Jesus?

08-05-2018From the Pastor's Desk

This week's column was written by Associate Pastor Fr. Sean Magaldi.

The thought of becoming a priest was undoubtedly a daunting one. It was hard enough telling family and friends, but the idea of telling a stranger was slightly terrifying. I remember going to an event with my brother knowing that small talk was inevitable. As a result, I began to think about what I was going to say when they asked me what do I do. I figured I could say school, and hope they didn’t ask me what I was studying. When we arrived, we began talking to a group of people. The self-fulfilling prophecy came true, and someone asked, “So what do you do?” My brother, who did not miss a beat, answered, “He’s going to be a priest.” They gave the polite response, “Oh isn’t that nice.” They asked a few more polite questions like, “How long does that take?” and “Can they send you anywhere in the world?” Eventually, the conversation moved on and I felt like I could take a sigh of relief.

My brother has always been one of the best evangelizers I have ever seen. He is fearless when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel message and telling people that he’s Catholic and loves Jesus. It never comes off as pushy, or preaching, nor does he ever seem “holier than thou.” His mentioning of faith always comes off as natural and organic. I have worked very hard to be able to evangelize like my brother. It helps to wear my collar almost everywhere I go because inevitably people come up to me. The point I’m trying to make is that we as Catholics tend to be very bad at talking about Jesus. We sometimes hide behind the quote, “Preach the Gospel and when necessary use words.” Well, we live in a world where it is necessary to use words.

Working closely with young people over the last three years, you may be shocked at how many don’t know the basics of our faith. When I talk to the children before they go to confession for the first time, I ask how many of them know the most common prayers like the Hail Mary, Our Father, and Glory Be. Shockingly very few raise their hands. This means that the faith is not being transmitted from one generation to another. As a result, we as Church must be more diligent in proclaiming the Gospel.

The most important thing we need to know as Christians is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered and died for us and on the third day. He rose again from the dead thus destroying the bonds of sin and death. Our lives are redeemed because we have a God who loves us to the point of dying for us. Just knowing this is enough to change our lives forever. If we do not talk about the love of God, if we do not share our experience of transformation and conversion, our faith will not be share and passed on. Imagine if St. Paul or the other Apostles never preached the Gospel; we wouldn’t know about Jesus.

We as disciples of Jesus Christ have the obligation of passing on the true and authentic teachings of the Church. This is not something just left for the priests and the nuns, this is meant for every Christian. We don’t need to know about everything, we don’t need master’s Are you afraid to talk about Jesus? in theology; we just need to love Jesus and not be afraid to talk about Him. There are many times someone asks me a question and I have to ask a more educated person or look it up. Never once did someone say, “Look at this guy, he doesn’t know anything.” I find most people appreciate when we’re humble and say we don’t know. As we grow closer to Christ in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and confession, we come to know Him more. When we read and pray with Scripture, we come to know Him more. When we study about Jesus using FORMED or the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” we grow closer to Christ. We believe and put our trust in a person, a person that we can come to know, a person who knows everything about us and died for us. The encounter with the person of Jesus Christ is something that is transforming and is a decisive point in our lives. When we meet Jesus, we are never the same again.

In his first encyclical, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes, “We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” (Deus Caritas Est, 1) This is what I pray everyone at St. Patrick’s experiences. If you have not encountered Christ, pray that He helps you meet Him.

Some simple steps help us come to know Jesus. First and foremost, go to Mass every Sunday. At Mass, we are able to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist. We cannot be any closer to Christ on earth than when we receive Him at Mass. Second, go to confession regularly, about once a month. If it has been months, years, or decades, do not be afraid to come to confession. All of the priests here are nice, we won’t yell at you and we will be happy you came. If it has been a while, maybe look up an examination of conscience. If you forgot some of the prayers, don’t worry; confession isn’t a test, we know what you’re supposed to say. By going regularly, we are able to keep ourselves accountable and remove the sins that keep us from growing closer to Christ.

Third pray with Scripture. This may seem terrifying, but it isn’t as bad as you may think. I would recommend taking the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday. Find a quiet place and start by recognizing you are in the presence of God. Then invite the Holy Spirit to guide you in your prayer. Merely repeating this phrase three times is helpful: “Come Holy Spirit.” Then begin reading the Gospel and when a word or >phrase stands out, sit with it. Think about what God is trying to tell you. Ask him why He is moving your focus to that word or phrase. Then try and make a resolution and apply it to your daily life. For instance, if the word “forgiveness” stands out and you feel God is telling you to forgive someone, call that person up and forgive them.

Fourth, say a prayer as soon as you wake up. Thank God when your eyes open and ask to consecrate your day to Him. Ask Him to help you grow closer to Him this day. Whatever you feel might be helpful. Fifth, pray throughout the day. Just talk to God about whatever is going on.

Maybe set a reminder on your phone. When it goes off, just say a quick prayer. As these practices begin to become part of our everyday lives, we deepen our intimacy with Jesus Christ. As our relationship grows with Jesus, we won’t be afraid to talk about Him. Although our numbers are dwindling in this part of the country, I am filled with hope. Christ promises that the Church will never die, that the “Gates of [hell] shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The Church began with humble beginnings and because of the witness of a handful of people, we know about Jesus today. They knew and walked with Jesus, they loved Him to the point that they gave their life for Him. The more we know and love Jesus, the more we will be fearless in talking about Him. As we grow closer to Jesus, we will be faithful witnesses of what we call the Kerygma, Jesus Christ suffered and died for us and on the third day, He rose from the dead therefore we can now have eternal life. This is the most significant news anyone can ever hear, let us not be afraid to spread this Good News.