I’d like to start with a question: How often do you take time to reflect on your relationship with God and consider where it’s going? For some of us, this will be a daily question, for others you may not remember the last time you did this. I ask because it was a question that I had stopped asking for quite a long time.
I was a Catholic – I was used to making an examination of conscience in preparation for Confession, but only when I felt some crisis had hit and the boat needed bailing out! Confession was the ‘safety net’. But I was not giving my discipleship the consideration it needed – surely faith should feel more like building than fire fighting! A disciple (meaning learner) is someone who shapes their life around imitating their master: Christ.
A few years ago I became a Benedictine oblate at St Mary’s Abbey, Colwich for this very reason. I felt I was not following Jesus in this intentional way – I needed firm foundations from which to ‘launch’ myself towards Christ, and monastic spirituality was the framework I found for doing that. The security I discovered there, paradoxically, began to shift my focus from myself towards others. Through His grace, God did not just want to draw me upwards, but outwards towards others.
The Gospels show us this vision – Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make more disciples (Matt 28:19) – to be missionary disciples. If we are following Christ and learning from Him, we can speak with greater confidence to those who are searching for Him and, as disciples, teach them through the witness of our lives. Evangelisation – sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ – overflows from a close and growing relationship with God. It would be impossible for us to evangelise unless we know the person about whom we’re speaking. In that sense, there is no such thing as an accidental disciple of Jesus! We either chose to follow Christ or we don’t.
But if we do, we will notice a desire to share the Good News – and perhaps this is what I meant by ‘accidental evangelist’. So how can we think strategically about our discipleship so that we can also call others to be disciples too – to evangelise? The following questions might help begin that process:
- How did you become a Catholic? Who (or what) brought you to church and why do you remain a Catholic today? Do you seek to know God better?
- How do you maintain your relationship with God? What do you do in order to make sure that you are staying close to your master, Jesus Christ?
- What might you share from your own discipleship that could help others understand what it is to have a close relationship with God? Who can you invite to become a disciple?
If you would like to join us in thinking about, and praying for, evangelisation across our Archdiocese then please contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or Natalie at email@example.com