“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
-Pope Benedict XVI
We have people in our lives. Our family, relatives, friends, peers, colleagues, strangers. Different people, different personalities. Some we like, and some we don’t.
And a lot of times, we come across people who are difficult. The jealous, the envious, the hard-headed, the insecure, the materialistic, the flashy to name a few.
But nonetheless, these people were given to us for a reason. And believe it or not, these are the people who are deep inside, seeking for help. (Note: Abusive people is another thing and a very different story that is not covered in this article.)
As Christians, these people are still our brothers, and they are for us to keep. But that task is not easy, very uncomfortable and “challenging” might not be an enough adjective.
But it is very much possible. And the rewards? Priceless!
Preaching through actions
I like preaching. It is a very effective tool for evangelization. It works especially to an audience who come seeking for answers, to hear about God’s love and those who want to be revitalized in spirit.
But for those certain people who are close to us, that doesn’t work as much.
This is where preaching through actions becomes efficacious.
My friend, who is now part of our charismatic community and is now actively serving the Lord, said that he was once the black sheep of their family. Though he came from a family of devout Catholics, he still “lost” his way growing up and made friends with people who are also “lost”, he said.
And what he shared to me one time is really inspiring and full of wisdom. He said, he and his old friends are still close, but he doesn’t invite them to go to church nor invite them to join our community. But rather, he shows them what he does now, waiting for them to approach him and inquire about the things that we do in the community. And when the talking gets serious, that’s the proper time to invite them. I learned about prudence in him. Because inviting your close friends “right away” might not be a good idea, sometimes. And please, do not engage in a debate even if you know you are right. You might win the debate because of your knowledge but you might lose your friend.
What stops us?
But still, it is really a challenge.
The fear of being rejected, it’s the primal enemy of evangelization.
Sometimes, it is easier to believe the people who are not so close to us, even strangers. Even Jesus did not perform miracles in His very own land, for people are unbelieving and familiar with his background. So you are definitely not alone. Jesus shares that experience with you.
With our strength alone, we often fail. We should also offer them to the Lord, pray for them. We might not see progress for a while. But when they do, it will be all worth it. But for now, be friend to that person, love that person. Let that love conquer your fear.
Another thing that stops us? Discomfort. When there’s pain. When there’s sacrifice. When there’s confusion. Jesus experienced this through His followers. From dozens of disciples to a dozen (There was a point of division in the disciples having trouble on Jesus preaching about the Eucharist. But that’s another topic). And then minus one. And the remaining? They ran when they were needed the most. And it happens to the best of us.
The happiness within
These negative feelings and emotions are traps. It blinds us of the happiness beyond all of these discomforts.
But reaching out for others comes with the gift of happiness on a higher level.
A more fulfilling, inspiring and a very life giving type of happiness. It gives you the desire to live, to serve. And nothing can take that away from you. It is the kind of happiness that gives you faith even in tough times. You sacrifice and still be happy. Even if you are rejected. Because this happiness is built on relationships. Your relationship with yourself, your neighbor, and most of all, with God. For He is all about relationships.
Reach out my friend. Fearless!
Peace be with you,
Mark Lester Fernando