How the Laity is Called to Mission
By Fr Ralph de Hahn – We have in our liturgical worship the “Proclaimers of the Word”. It is the Word of God they proclaim; it is proclaimed — not read like a book.
We can be thankful to God for a large number of excellent proclaimers in various parishes throughout our country. However, what about the rest of us? Have our people already forgotten the significance of their baptism by water, blood, fire and the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11; Acts 1:5)? It would appear so.
Surely the evangelists and Paul wrote the Good News for the lay people, not for the powerful synagogue of that day. And the laity, baptised and confirmed in the Spirit, are sent forth to live this new set of Christian values in a godless society, like sending lambs among the wolves.
Priests and religious are called to live their vocation; so are the lay people called to be ambassadors for Christ, to be his witnesses in a crazy world.
Of course, there is a cost to discipleship ((Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23), because nothing of real worth is ever achieved without sacrifice! He calls us by name, and the inner joy and peace promised is beyond measure.
All this is not about proselytising or converting the unbeliever — it’s all about attracting others by our kindness, self-confidence, deep faith and joy. These qualities are contagious. Speak to recent converts to the Church; they will tell you!
Of course, we are a sinful people and we ourselves are bruised and wounded; yet we are called to serve the millions who are even more sorely bruised, who are horribly abused, grievously wounded, hungry and thirsting for justice — in rich mansions as well as the poor, even in our very own neighbourhoods. No matter what their culture or origin, they will understand our language of love.
Christianity Without Conversion Isn’t Christianity
We have the perfect example in Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was a lay person: a virgin, a wife, a mother and a widow! She carried Christ into the world. That is what the Church is asking of her believing children. And with a faith that can move mountains.
Christians are foolish to bury this real joy under a litany of excuses!
We also share the powerful support of the sacraments, above all the Eucharist. Our people must understand that Christianity without conversion is meaningless, and without love for God and our neighbour it is certainly dead.
Pope Francis has spoke again and again about the joy of the Gospel. The heart goes first, he says, the rest will follow.
Serving the poor, the broken and vulnerable, the down-trodden and the hungry is a sign of the kingdom. We soon get to learn that poverty is power; humility is power.
The evangelist is a messenger of the Good News; he or she must believe that one’s life will blossom amazingly by giving of oneself and sharing this precious gift, because that power behind you and that power within you (Eph 3) is far greater than the task before you.
We desperately need lay messengers of the Good News.