To Evangelize what rank is necessary in the eyes of God?
To God no person is too small when it comes to reaching those in need. Think of the Good Samaritan from Luke’s Gospel. The people who passed the man robbed and beaten could not be bothered to assist him. Of course there may have been Temple rules regarding touching someone unclean before reaching their ceremony, but then Jesus pointed out that mercy is more important than following rules of religion. The specific scenario was that an unsuspecting person would show up and perform an untold service probably not announced ro very many, if any.
Point here is when specific events such as Advent and Lent arrive, there are many needs that must be taken into consideration when preparing neophytes for entrance into the sacraments. Ordained clerics used to be the first to evangelize them but now with so many lay people performing these duties we need to give prominence to them who now have taken over these functions.
Lately I have had a physical therapist attending me from a fall and when he mentioned I see you are a Cathoilc, obvious from crucifixes and pictures in our living room. He mentioned he was on a team of RCIA teachers at the same parish as my wife and I. That opened the conversation regarding the importance of his ministry. I remember before I was ordained or even a candidate for the diaconate the functions that were open for me in my home parish. Explaining what the Church was about to interested parishioners who were not baptized was not called RCIA. But the elements that brought these people into the Church were similar. My explanation to my therapist was that his position and others in the same ministry were performing an evangelical mission that must be seen as perhaps the most essential step to bringing the unbaptized to the Easter Vigil.
One reading from the Office for Dec. 3, was the letter to St. Ignatius from St. Francis Xavier. He mentioned that visiting villages of new converts who accepted the faith years before. However, he related there were no priests, no Masses to be said, and no one to teach them the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the commandments of God’s Law. He continued stating he hardly had time enough to read the Office or even sleep at night. They requested to learn prayers, understand the faith and he could not refuse their needs even to losing sleep himself.
He continued that many people were not becoming Christians for one reason only; there is nobody to make them Christians. What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell because those who should be answering the call were not there.
Of course in the dioceses where there are many churches and teachers to instruct the problem doesn’t appear to exist. As I mentioned in other articles I spent some time in Texas and short experiences in some southern states where there was and no doubt is now a shortage of clergy and enough lay people to ensure church evangelization didn’t lose its thrust.
For those of you that are filling these positions please accept the thanks of the Church, and know you are reaching more than you may realize. If you were called, especially through the Holy Spirit, you have answered God’s call and souls, more than you might know, are being saved. Your call is one that is on a par with teaching from clergy.
Ralph B. Hathaway