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Something to think and pray about this week

Welcoming the message of Jesus into our hearts

Pope Saint Paul VI, in an oft-quoted phrase, said that the people of today listen more to witnesses than to teachers, and if they listen to teachers it is because they are witnesses. To expand on this idea, one might say that those who wish to share the Gospel must somehow incarnate it in their own lives and personalities. They must mirror something of the attractiveness of Christ. What was it that drew people to Jesus of Nazareth? Was it his compassion, his mercy, his understanding, his kindness, his joy, his patience? It was surely all of these and much more besides. Somehow, he communicated love to them and they sense in him the presence of the ultimate source of all love, the one whom he addressed as Abba, Father. Christ-like people who, by a combination of the gifts of nature and grace, can reproduce something of that in their own lives and in their manner of relation to others will surely make the best evangelisers.

All this implies that those who wish to share the Gospel message must be deeply steeped in that message themselves. All who wish to bring Christ into the lives of others must first have welcomed him wholeheartedly into their own lives. They must be people of personal holiness. All of this suggests a deep and sustained personal prayer life, the lifelong effort to let the message that Jesus came to bring (and to be) soak its way more and more deeply into the deepest recesses of the heart. Pope Francis has written about what this means in practice in Guadete at Exsultate and the fact that so many people find the personality of Pope Francis so attractive and appealing suggests that he is one good model of what an evangeliser might be like, one who tries to practice what he preaches.

Excerpted from Pastoral Ministry in Changing Times The Past, Present and Future of the Catholic Church in Ireland by Aidan Ryan