We are entering the fall season, with the expectation of the brilliant changing colors, cooler and less humid weather. It is something anticipated every year at this time although we may not always appreciate the true beauty of the season. We become complacent in the comfort of knowing what to expect at the great disadvantage of not fully living in the moment. Did you ever have that same feeling with your faith?
There is this great concept, both challenging and exciting, that has emerged over the last several years in the Catholic Church — the new evangelization. For some it can cause spine-tingling fright; for others it is something to ponder and reflect upon. But for most of us it causes confusion as to its implementation. Why do I have to evangelize? I’m not comfortable expressing my religious beliefs, after all doesn’t it say somewhere to avoid conversations of politics and religion and you will get along just fine? But this is exactly what we should be doing — we will never know if that person next to us in the pew is at a juncture of their faith and needs some reassuring words.
The readings for this weekend see God assigning watchmen to warn and guide those who have turned away from God. Jesus instructs his disciples to testify to each other when there is wrongdoing. How does this fit into the new evangelization and being a witness to our faith? As a guardian of our faith we have a responsibility to not only speak up in loving correction, but to also be open to correction ourselves.
If we look to the Greek word for church, ekkl?sia, we find that it is related to the verb kale? or call. We have all received a call from Jesus to live our lives in word and action as a witness to our faith. Why is it that there are fewer people in the pews on Sunday? Or why is it so hard to find volunteers for parish events and ministries? And why is the collection basket finding fewer and fewer donations? Maybe a phone call to offer a ride to someone is the ticket or an invitation to a parish event or committee meeting will spark some interest. We won’t know until we extend ourselves beyond our comfort level and turn from complacency to active participation in our faith.
We evangelize by word and action — speaking up, volunteering for causes (dare I say putting our neck on the line) and donating to our parishes, communities and worthwhile organizations. When our fear of being out there as a witness to our Catholic faith binds us, we are losing the best chance we have of making a difference in this world. Let us not be complacent and answer that call.
Wettstein is a volunteer choir director and former director of music and liturgy at Good Shepherd Parish, Chilton.