The parish in which I serve as a deacon has been blessed with a strong attendance at our Sunday services. However, a good number of our congregants are getting on in years; there will come a time when they will no longer be with us. And I do not see many young people joining us. This situation is becoming common throughout this country; this is true in Europe. There has been a call for a “New Evangelization;” but what does that mean?
There is already out there a plethora of programs, “how to” books, DVD’s and CD’s; all offering an approach that is sure to draw new members. Most are based on experiences of pastors, lay teachers, and other speakers. And many of them are fine, and may offer a short term solution. However, no approach will offer long term success, if it does not awaken a passion for God; a passion for the Word and Sacrament; a passion to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, right here,right now. To ignite that passion, and more importantly, sustain it; we must open ourselves the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Have a passion for reading and meditating on Scripture frequently, let it speak to us, let it excite us, let it inspire us. Then, be passionate in prayer, both as an individual, and as part of a worshiping Eucharistic community. Because, only in Christ, will we experience the great love of the Father for ea h of us. Only in Christ, will we find the strength to change our lives. And through the Holy Spirit, will we receive the grace which set our hearts on fire.
It is then that we will have the passion to go out and “make disciples of all nations.” However, most of us will not be called to preach with words, but by actions. Like Francis of Assisi, we must have within us, a passion for healing the sick; giving care to those stressed out by life; welcoming the stranger. In other words, we must be passionate about giving mercy to a suffering, alienated society. We may be called in many different and various ways to do this; we may not be very good at it at first, but it only takes small steps, that will grow into bigger steps.
The first followers of Jesus, inflamed by the Holy Spirit, were passionate for living and proclaiming the Good News. And they drew thousands into the faith. Let us have the courage to become flame, to become passionate for Christ; and see what miracles we can achieve!