As we continue to prayerfully unpack our parish mission of “building a Church of missionary disciples in Grapevine Texas,” one question I hear echoed is “What exactly are we supposed to do?” The one powerful thing all of us can start doing today without any training is giving witness to Jesus Christ’s action in our lives.
At the heart of all of our efforts is the great comission of Jesus “Go, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus invites us to share in His mission for all people, and this makes us missionary disciples. Pope Francis in the document “The Joy of the Gospel” or Evangelii Gaudium (which I highly recommend all of our parishioners prayerfully read), tells us “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (Matthew 28:19).” (EG #120). The Holy Father then explains all of us need to participate in this mission; none of us are exempt.
“The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries’, but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples’.” (EG #120).
How can we start living out the call to become missionary disciples?
By telling people frequently about the encounters with the love of God we are experiencing daily. This is called being a witness or giving witness to Jesus Christ, and it allows Jesus to change people’s lives.
We need to tell people about that “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands… we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:1-4).
Pope Francis continues to encourage us, saying “If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: ‘We have found the Messiah!’ (Jn 1:41). The Samaritan woman became a missionary immediately after speaking with Jesus and many Samaritans come to believe in him ‘because of the woman’s testimony’ (Jn 4:39). So too, Saint Paul, after his encounter with Jesus Christ, ‘immediately proclaimed Jesus’ (Acts 9:20; cf. 22:6-21). So what are we waiting for?” (EG #120).
Here’s an easy 3-part method to begin telling people frequently about the encounters with the love of God we are experiencing. First, we think about a time in our life that we have encountered the love of God, or a time recently that God has done something in our life. Then we tell the story in 3 parts:
Where was I?
Not literally, but before God acted in my life, where was I? Was I far from him? Was I experiencing a challenge, fear, struggle, or confusion? Was I struggling with sin or temptation?
What did God do?
How did I encounter God and his love? What did He say to me or teach me? How did he care for me? How did he move in my life?
Where am I now?
What change in me did this encounter with God or action in my life cause? How did I grow as a disciple? How did I grow closer to Jesus Christ? What am I convicted to do now? What did I learn?
This could be the story of your whole life and conversion in Jesus Christ, or it could be a simple two-minute story of something small God did in your life just this morning. This could be a one-hour conversation with a close friend or a quick conversation with the cashier at Kountry Donuts.
Pray today that God would give you an opportunity to share with someone about the encounters with the love of God you are experiencing. What are you waiting for?
This story was written by Edmund Mitchell, Director of Catechesis & Evangelization, and published in the December issue of the St. Francis Grapevine.