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Bishop's Homily for the Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time

We talk about it a lot, but we Catholics are not very good at evangelism.

By Bishop Larry Silva
June 21, 2020

[St. Theresa Church, Mountain View (Confirmation/First Communion; Pastor Installation)]

We talk about it a lot, but we Catholics are not very good at it.  We say it is the reason why our Church exists, but we who are members of the Church often hold it as one of life’s great secrets.  I am speaking about evangelization; about actively sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others who do not yet know him.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been with groups of committed Catholics who are asked to talk about evangelization and who end up talking about how they can make the experience of living our faith richer for those who already live it.  They talk about how we can make our liturgies more reverent and engaging, and they presume that if we take care of that very important task, people will just flock to Mass.  Or they talk about having more Bible studies at the parish or hosting group discussions for single parents, widows and widowers, and other groups, but have no plan about how to invite people who do not come.  In the end, they focus on what happens in the parish, and forget about the thousands of people who do not come to the parish because they do not know who Jesus really is.

Today’s Scriptures give us an opportunity to reflect on this essential mission that we have.  Here we have our beautiful children who are going to be confirmed and receive their First Communion.  They are like angels, with their souls eager and open to receiving the graces of God in their full initiation into the Catholic Church.  Did it ever occur to you that the word “evangelize” means that angels go out and share a message?  Angels are not just beings who sit up in the glories of heaven eating spiritual bon-bons.  They are essentially messengers who make various aspects of God’s love present to the world.  And so it is that you who are above the angels are also chosen by God, along with all fully initiated Catholics, to go out to others and show not just your love but the love of Jesus Christ to others so that they can come to know him.

Do your classmates, your family members, your teachers, or your coaches know that Jesus is alive and loves them very much, and that he can be encountered physically here in the Eucharist?  How will they ever come to know that, unless you go out to them and take the risk of sharing your faith with them?

Now maybe we do not do this because it is risky business.  Like the prophet Jeremiah and many others who were committed to proclaiming the truth of the faith, there will be those who denounce and whisper behind our backs.  They do not want to be told that they are not gods themselves, or that they would be so much happier if they just let themselves receive the love of the Savior who can change their lives for the better.  They may think we are crazy for thinking that someone who lived 2,000 years ago is alive now, because he rose from the dead and calls us into intimate communion with himself here at Mass.  But as Jesus said, if we do not take the risk of acknowledging him to others, neither will he acknowledge us to his heavenly Father.  Yes, it is risky to proclaim the Good News of Jesus, because people may ridicule us, shun us, or persecute us, but Jesus assures us we have nothing to fear, because we really do have a Savior who cares of us.

As we celebrate Fathers Day today we can reflect on one of the roles of a father, which is to challenge his children to go out and to take risks in life, risks that will ultimately benefit them and others.  He does this while all the while covering our backs, but wants us to go out and get our hands dirty, to perhaps make some mistakes, but ultimately to get out of our comfort zones so that we can grow.  So our heavenly Father sent us Jesus as a true Father, who, with the power of the Holy Spirit, sends us out to take risks in spreading his Good News so that all may come to know and love him.

The world in which we live is desperately in need of the truth in the midst of so much falsehood. So many want to recreate the world the way they want it to be rather than reforming it according to the beauty with which God made it.  This will lead to nothing but divisions and misery in the end, as Jesus warns us today.  So Jesus sends us his Spirit and nourishes us with his own Body and Blood so that we can “Fear no one,” but like angels go out to evangelize so that the joy we find in him can be a joy shared by all.