Image from Nheyob via Wikimedia Commons.
Almost every evening before I go to bed, I take about ten minutes to scroll through my Facebook. Mostly just to see the news at the end of the day, but also to see what new stuff is posted from EWTN and from some other Catholic outlets. Yesterday, I came across a live video from Bishop Robert Barron at a book club event from the Diocese of Orange in southern California. He and his co-author were talking about his new book, To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age (you can buy it from the link here, or download it for free with an Audible.com trial). I have the book on my Kindle, but I haven’t read it yet, but when I do I’ll be sure to share my thoughts here.
Today though, I want to focus on one of the things that Bishop Barron said in his interview, faith cannot be a hobby. Many people in today’s age treat faith as something that should be private, and in fact, our society has mostly shunned faith from every public forum (thank God for Catholic radio!).
Here is the video I am referring to:
- Mark 16:15: “‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.”
- Psalm 96:3: “Declare his glory among the nations, / his marvellous works among all the peoples.“
- Matthew 5:15: “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.“
We are told explicity in the Gospels by Jesus to share the Gospel with everyone. Even before Christ, David wrote in the Psalms to “Declare his glory among the nations.” So why have we hidden it?
It truely is an internal conflict. The world today tells us to accept everyone as they want to be accepted, even if it violates science. We are told to repsect all faiths and devotions, even those that contrary to what Jesus Christ told us in the Gospels. The libritarian in me agrees with this (“you do what you want so long as it doesn’t infringe on my rights”). We fail to come any near the fine line between sharing and accepting.
It is hard. We’ve had politicans in the not too distant past that have told us to leave our faith at home and at church. Quite frankly, I am convinced that these words come from something evil. It is the exact opposite of what Jesus tells us.
I was in a class this morning in which we are discussing the politics of the Middle East, and my professor, a non-Catholic to say the least, was quick to point out “how similar Islam and Christianity (Catholicism) are,” pointing out a line in the Quaran that says to devote yourself to God. He then asked, “who among you completely devote yourselves to Jesus Christ?” His question was sarcastic, trying to point out that Muslims are better than Christians. I was the only person to raise my hand. He and others didn’t notice. I would like to point out, that many (most) Muslims are very good people and very devout in their faith. However, they do not follow Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
I also want to point out that I’m not saying I raised my hand in hubris. I am nowhere close to being a completely devout Christian, but I am trying as hard as I can. One of the things that I (and others) have to realize is that it’s ok to be persecuted. Jesus told us in Matthew 16:24-25, “‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.“
“No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:15)
Let us also not forget the words that we are told at the Mass, “go forth and spread the Gospel, Alleluia Alleluia.” We must share our faith with others, we must evangalize it, and when we are told to keep quiet, we must share it even more.
I look forward to reading and share my experience with To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age by Bishop Robert Barron. If you have any questions or want to share your experiences about faith sharing, feel free to email or tweet me, or comment below.
I would like to close with a story from the Acts of the Apostles, when Peter and John were arrested for preaching the Good News. I hope you have a safe weekend and a blessed next week.
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is
“the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.”
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, ‘What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.’ So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.