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St. John showing Christ to St. Andrew, Ottavio Vannini, c. 17th Century

Happy New Year everyone!  I pray this finds you in good health and full of hope for a safe and prosperous new year.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  Or are you like me and know that you will break them at the first opportunity? Generally, I tend not to make them but prefer, instead, to make daily resolutions gleaned from what I hear God’s will for me is that day based on my morning prayer and meditation.  However, one thing that’s been on my mind these last few days is understanding what I can do this year to help lead more people closer to Christ.  

In yesterday’s Gospel passage, John 1: 35-42, I read, “John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’  The two heard what he said and followed Jesus.” (Jn 1:35-37, NAB)  John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus brought Jesus his first two disciples.  And all it took were five words:  “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

Any good Jew would have understood “the Lamb of God” as indicating the Messiah, the One Who, according to Isaiah the Prophet (Is 53: 7, 10) would accomplish the Lord’s will and lead Israel out of slavery.  These were the words they had longed to hear for generations.  He was their hope, their salvation, the answer to their unhappiness.  He was their rescuer.

Meditating on this passage, I wished it was that easy to convert people today, to help them recognize Christ as the answer to their problems, the One Who can bring peace in a stressed out world.  All it took was for John the Baptist to say five words!  Five words that hit home with people who were looking for peace, freedom, and a better life.  I thought, millions of people today are searching for exactly those things and many of them are right here in my own community.  I wondered, “What five words could I use to attract them to our Lord?”

As I pondered this question, I realized I would have to first work on getting my little ol’ self out of my introverted comfort zone.  My first five words ought to be directed to Jesus Himself, “Lord, give me courage. Amen!”

I know that evangelizing can be more effective if a friendly relationship is first built with someone rather than shouting through a bullhorn from a street corner.  What five words could be used to initiate a new friendship?  A few that came to mind were:

  • “Hello, my name is __________.”
  • “Good morning, what’s your name?”
  • “Hello, are you new here?”
  • “Let’s get together for coffee!”

We all have friends we know very well, and we routinely meet people for the first time, who, if we are observant, we can tell are hurting in some way, either physically, emotionally or spiritually, and they need lifting up.  What five words can be used to bring the love of Christ to them, to let them know we care?  

  • “Can I pray for you?”
  • “How can I help you?”
  • “A penny for your thoughts.”
  • “You look lonely.  Wanna talk?”
  • “What struggles are you having?”

And, then there are those who we see routinely at mass, who attend simply because they are supposed to or it’s what they’ve always done, yet are lukewarm in their faith.  Many of these folks have let worldliness obscure their vision of Christ as the ultimate good.  Their lives are out of balance and they know something is missing but they’re not quite sure what to do about it.  What five words can we say to them to help them realize their situation, start them on the road back, and rekindle or strengthen their relationship with Jesus?

  • “How’s your prayer life, friend?”
  • “What graces have you had?”
  • “Where’s Jesus in your life?”
  • “Come, let’s go to confession!”
  • “Join me in Bible study?”

Five words for courage.  Five words to make a new friend.  Five words to show you love and care for someone.  Five words to help someone who can’t see the forest for the trees.  That might be all it takes.  Of course, six, ten, or two dozen words might work even better.  It’s really not that difficult if our hearts accept the mission given to us by Jesus to be disciple-makers.

“Dear Jesus, I love You because I know You love me.  I want to share it with others who need to know Your love as well.  Help me, Lord, to recognize the opportunities before me to evangelize, to summon up the courage to reach out, and to trust the Holy Spirit to give me the right words at the right time.  Amen.”

(Five Words was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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