On this big weekend, it can be fun to recognize that pretty much EVERYONE loves the idea of stars, lightening bugs, glo-sticks, fireworks, lanterns, and sparklers. Why? It’s built into us. We are drawn to the light of Christ, whether we admit it or not. We are even called to be salt and light (cf. Matthew 5:13-16): to flavor our communities, to light up our homes, to shine forth in our workplaces.
Maybe you’re reading this right now and thinking: “OH my gosh, though. Have you heard the people I work with?” Or maybe something like: “Well that’s easy for you, you work at the church.” Or “I have heard the fancy people who can spew Scripture right and left. I can’t do that.” It seems too darn difficult, right?
You’re right. It can be difficult. Sirach 2 starts with “My son, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trial.” It’s hard. Almost everything worthwhile is. But. Jesus promises more than that. He promises to be with us (See Matthew 28). Sirach 2 ends with: Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, but not into the hands of men; for as his majesty is, so also is his mercy.
And so how do we fall into the hands of the Lord, into that boundless ocean of love? And – significantly –how do we coax others to do the same? Well, let’s imagine that we are Olympic champions trying to teach a child to swim in the sea. A child who has never done it before, someone who would LOVE the ocean if only they knew!
Fear tells us that we have to pick up that scared little potential swimmer with a roaring helicopter and drop them right over the deepest part. That we must flex our own ability and then overwhelm them with it. That (circling back to evangelization) we have to know ALL THE TRICKY BITS, to answer every question, to DEFEND THE FAITH!! But no: the goal is to accompany our friend into The Wet End of the Ocean. To squat down, play on the sand for 3 hours, laugh, have a cookie, hold that little hand and dip toes in together. To giggle. To be as simple and wonderful as salt and light. To accompany others as Jesus Himself accompanies us, and to find our own souls being vivified by it.
Some other (greater) teachers have put it this way:
Christian preaching is not the proclamation of a system of doctrines… but, rather, guidance to a reality that is challenge, gift, and promise all in one. – Pope Benedict 16, Dogma and Preaching
An evangelizing community is… supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. It is familiar with patient expectation and apostolic endurance. Evangelization consists mostly of patience and disregard for constraints of time. — Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel
When we are asked on campus, “How much time does discipleship take?” we respond, “All of it.” Those things in life that are the most natural are learned by modeling, not by mere instruction. Taking our first steps and speaking our first words, for example, were learned simply by living with people who walked and spoke. Holiness is meant to be learned the same way. — Curtis Martin of FOCUS