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Deacon-structing Mission: Advent 2

Deacon Pedro

Sunday, December 8, 2019

“Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone instructs me?’” (Acts 8:30-31). Detail of Landscape with Saint Philip Baptizing the Eunuch by Jan Both. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Last week we began looking at Advent with missionary glasses. What does Advent have to do with mission? I think the answer is everything, especially when we think of John the Baptist.
Did you consider how you share your faith?
It may be a Canadian thing, I don’t know (it’s certainly different in Latin America). But either we are too afraid or shy or embarrassed or ashamed. Or we are too “politically correct”, and we really believe that we shouldn’t meddle in other people’s business. We’ve really bought into the idea that anyone can believe and do whatever they want as long as they don’t bother me and that faith is private and personal; but it’s not. We gather as Church in community because faith is public. Faith is personal, but it is not private: It has to be shared.
And so our idea of mission is to take school supplies to children in the Dominican Republic. We go on mission trips to build homes in Mexico or dig wells in Uganda. I went with a group to paint a church up in the Yukon. Don’t get me wrong, these things are important. We are called to do acts of charity. Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those who are sick and in prison (Matthew 25:34-40). Jesus himself healed the sick and comforted the afflicted. We must do all that, but if that is all we do, then who is preaching the good news? Who is proclaiming the Gospel? Who is making disciples of all nations? Who is baptizing? Who is teaching? Who is the voice crying in the wilderness?
We love that expression attributed to St. Francis which says, “Preach the Gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.” We love it because we think it gives us an excuse to not use words. But sometimes words are necessary. And what do we do then? Are we ready for that moment?
Here’s another quote for you: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Peter 3:15). And that one comes straight out of the Bible!
I don’t need to know my faith in order to fill shoe boxes with toiletries and send them to Honduras. But in order to share our faith, we must know it. We cannot be ignorant of our faith.
When we arrived in Venezuela for the 4th Missionary Congress of the Americas in 2013 (which I mentioned last time), we had to wait for two hours for the bus to pick us up, and so I began speaking with a gentleman at the airport. Turns out he was an evangelical pastor. Guess what that conversation was like! He was evangelizing me, and I was sharing my faith, and we were evangelizing each other. It was a great conversation. We really shared a lot, and I believe that we grew in communion with each other.
But if I didn’t know Scripture and if I didn’t know what the Church teaches about Mary and the Eucharist and about the papacy (because that is what he wanted to talk about), I could not have had that conversation. Could you have that conversation? We have to share our faith, and we must use words.
This second week of Advent, perhaps these are good questions: Would you be comfortable having that conversation with someone? When someone asks (or challenges you) about Mary, the papacy, or the Eucharist, can you answer their concerns? Do you know what the Church teaches about some of these things?
If you can’t have that conversation, why not? What are you waiting for?
Come back next week and we’ll see what we can begin doing so we can be comfortable having those faith conversations.

Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]

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