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Evangelist asks, “Do you know Him?”

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Layout 1There’s much talk and much more being written these days in the Catholic world about evangelism – sharing the joy of the Gospel message with others.

We’ve all met evangelists, seen them on TV or witnessed them giving their witness in any number of forums – including in the political arena. St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have encouraged and promoted the “New Evangelization,” one that has its roots in families that live Gospel values and share them with others.

The world advances in secularism all the same. Many of us shy from proclaiming our faith or the Good News of salvation so as to not be mocked or ridiculed by co-workers, neighbors and even family members. Lent is upon us and we will read in the passion accounts (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 18) how Jesus was mocked by Roman and Jewish government officials, temple authorities and soldiers, not to mention the public on the streets of Jerusalem during the trial, persecution and crucifixion.

If you have ever been mocked – and most of us have – we know it’s not a pleasant experience, especially when you have no recourse. It’s embarrassing, humiliating and degrading. Hence, it is something to be avoided.

Which brings me to the one evangelist I will never forget. I’ve told this story in this space before and I will probably tell it again.  We only met briefly 25 years ago after my employer had transferred me to a North Carolina newspaper and I never saw him again. I will never forget his witness.

We were both leaving a laundromat after a thunderstorm passed. I held the door for him and he commented that he was grateful that the rain appeared to be over for the night and I responded, “Good Lord willing.”

He broke into a huge smile – the man was almost glowing — and asked, “Do you know Him?”

At first I was speechless – stood there like a dunce. “Good Lord willing” was not intended to incite a worship service. I eventually mumbled something about having been “on a first-name basis for many years.”

Here was someone who was a willing witness at any opportunity and it made me uncomfortable.  It never occurred to him to fear being mocked. He had the courage of his convictions so he didn’t hesitate to be a witness.

He asked me if I was new in the area, which I was so he asked me the logical question for an evangelist: “Have you chosen your church-home?”

“We’re attending St. Joseph Catholic Church,” I responded. He said “good,” he was a member at First Assembly of God “and you would be welcome any time if you’d like to come.”

Did I invite him to St. Joseph’s? Unfortunately, it never occurred to me.

What does occur to me in this season when we read the Passion Gospels is that what our popes are saying about evangelism requires people willing to talk to other people about their spirituality and their beliefs could not be better exemplified than by the fine gentleman I met at that day at the laundromat.

He felt so confident and joyous in his faith that he wanted to share it with anyone and everyone he met.

Steve Trosley is editor and general manager of The Catholic Telegraph.

 

This Editor’s Note column first appeared in the March 2016 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

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