July 21, 2019

Friends ,

There is a saying that Christians use that goes something like this: “preach the gospel at all times using words if necessary”. In other terms, there are more effective ways of preaching than speaking. We are always challenged to live the gospel rather than quote it. We can’t necessarily prove that all the words attributed to Jesus were actually spoken by him in the circumstances described in the gospel stories. It is his lifestyle that we are asked to imitate. The Catholic Church world wide and the Church in the Archdioceses of Boston speak in eloquent terms about the call of each Christian to be evangelizers. We hear words like the “New Evangelization”, which centers around inviting others to believe and celebrate their faith with us. We now recognize that each of us is a “disciple in mission”. It no longer is the sole responsibility or privilege of the clergy or those in ministry to preach the gospel, it is a challenge for each of us as Christians. That can be done in our family, neighborhood, parish, community, country and the world. We are called to lead by example.

I was recently reading a reflection in the National Catholic Reporter by Mary M. McGlone and I love the following words, “People who evangelize by their presence are recognizable first by their freedom. They can hang out with anyone, without concern for what others might think or say. They notice needs and respond to them with whatever power they have. They aren’t anti-establishment as much as they are utterly unimpressed by power, prestige, and glittery stuff. They live in today, knowing that tomorrow is beyond their control and that the future holds invincible promise”.

When I meet someone with these qualities, I admire their worldview and their ability to bring hope to the downtrodden. As they say in alcoholics anonymous “it’s about attraction not coercion”.

Personally, I am Catholic by birth and also by choice. It is not the commitment from birth that now motivates me to spread the Word, it is my choice to remain Catholic and celebrate my faith that motivates me to be an evangelizer. I know the Church with its weaknesses and strengths. I know the Church with its disappointments and highlights. It is my Church by choice as long as I can recognize its humanity and its inability to preach or live the gospel perfectly. You and I are challenged every day to hold ourselves and those in authority accountable for living the gospel faithfully. If we believe the institutional Church is not following the Gospel (life of Christ) as well as it can, we have every right to speak up and be heard. That right was given to us at our baptism.

I am impressed by so many of our parishioners who realize that their Christian faith and Catholic affiliation does not separate them from others but unites us. It is that conviction and example that indicates how well we understand the life of Christ and truly make us capable of evangelizing as Christ did.

Enjoy life!
Father Coyne

 

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