Catholic Church in Segovia, Spain
Recently, while sitting in a Walmart tire center waiting for work to be done on my Jeep, I was reminded of the importance of evangelization. As I sat in the dingy waiting room playing on my phone, an older gentleman came in and sat down a few seats from me. I quickly began to detect a prompting, by what I assumed to be the Holy Spirit, encouraging me to share the Catholic faith with this man. I immediately began to go back and forth in my mind about if I should say anything. Finally, I did engage the man, and what I found out was both encouraging and concerning.
After the normal introductions and small talk, I asked the gentleman about church. He quickly informed me that he had been attending a Catholic Church in town over the past several years with his wife! “Great” I thought, “this is going to be easy.” Eventually, however, he told me that he had not fully entered the Church and had never been baptized. From what I could tell, the issue wasn’t that he was closed off to the idea, but that he had just never done so. After continuing our conversation at some length, I encouraged the gentleman to ask about becoming Catholic from his parish priest. He smiled, we said our goodbyes, and I left to pickup my vehicle.
This encounter left me with a real sense of how urgent the need for evangelization is for those outside AND inside of our churches. Now, perhaps this gentleman had been encouraged to join before and simply denied the offer. Any number of factors could have been at play in this gentleman’s life that I was not made aware of. That said, the question still remains: How many folks are sitting in our churches without any desire to become Catholic or to fully live out their Catholic faith? AND…How many would willingly consider if only we encouraged them?
As recipients of the greatest gift ever given, namely our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, Catholics should be desperately trying to reach those around us. I know, easier said than done. Even as I type this, I recall the oft quoted expression from my Protestant youth: “I’m preaching to myself now, everybody!” Though it can be tough, and sometimes awkward, each of us can and must grow in this area of our faith lives. Why? Because that person on the street, or maybe even in the pew next to you at mass, needs your witness!