But this morning I didn't realize I was scheduled to preach until after I arrived at the church. And so I had about five minutes to give the readings some thought and decide what I would say about them. The two readings: Dn 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28 and Lk 21:12-19. As well as I can recall my words, here's what I had to say:
Last night I had a dream, a very strange dream. I woke up at about 2 a.m. with the dream fresh in my mind. I was in a church, not this church, but a very large church, and as I walked up to the ambo to preach I saw that the church was filled with people. But as soon as I began to preach, everybody in the church simply stood up and left the building. I'm not kidding. That's exactly what happened...at least in my dream.
Now as I lay there in the dark at 2 a.m. I had no idea what this might mean. I think perhaps I need a Daniel to interpret it for me. But after reading today's Gospel passage from Luke earlier this morning, I began to think that it might relate to how well I'm doing as an evangelist. And, apparently, if the dream is accurate, not very well.
How about you? Are you an evangelist...yet? You do know that as a Christian you are called to evangelize, don't you? Indeed, the last three popes -- John Paul II, Benedict, and Francis -- have all made evangelization a key priority of the papacy and, therefore, of the entire Church. For evangelization is the Church's one mission, the mission that Jesus gave to the disciples and to us with His last words before He returned to the Father:
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” [Mt 28:19-20].He addressed these words to all of us, brothers and sisters. Yes, you and I are called to make disciples and to teach. We are all called to evangelize. And Jesus, in those last words of His, gives us the consolation of His presence. He will be with us until the end of the age, just as He is with us now. He is with us in the Eucharist until He returns in glory. We have Him, the Real Presence, in our presence every day. What a consolation that is!
And we will certainly need Him because evangelization comes with a cost. Did you hear what Jesus said in our Gospel passage?
“They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name...and they will put some of you to death...You will be hated by all because of my name" [Lk 21:12,16-17].Not very comforting is it? But this is the cost; this is the price you and I must pay if we are to evangelize in a world that rejects Jesus, a world that rejects the Word of God. And so we need His presence if we are to answer Jesus's call to evangelization.
Recall, too, that He will inspire us through His Holy Spirit. How did He put it?
"It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute." [Lk 21:13-15]Lord knows I didn't prepare these words today, so if they're of any value, they are the Spirit's words. not mine.
And so, today, perhaps you and I should take some time to think about this call issued by Jesus, this call to evangelization.
Are you an evangelist...yet? If not, why not? And don't worry, because God will be with you always, leading the way.
God love you.