Your Faith Life Story Has A Lot To Offer

    World Mission Sunday reminds us that a transparent Christian life, radiating the Real Presence of Jesus within, is the mission of every Christian.

      The primary concern of Bishops, pastors, parents, and other leaders of the church everywhere is how to connect with the disconnected. The many wonderful programs that the Church has been doing in the past decades are not helping us to achieve this goal. While they work for those who are already connected, they do not work for those disconnected. Then, what is the best way? It is none other than Jesus as model. It is a one-on-one approach rather than a program. To connect with the disconnected, we have to look at what Jesus did. Jesus brought people close to him, and their lives were transformed. Then he said, "You go out, and you tell what happened to you." The essential building block for connecting with the disconnected, especially those families away from the church, is sharing our personal story of Faith with others.

    In this regard, everyone could consider just two questions: 1. What difference has Jesus made in your life? 2. Do your children know the answer to the first question? It may be true that we Catholics are not usually ready with an answer to the first question. However, I am encouraging you to reflect on this question seriously, then share your answer with your non-practicing grown-up children before you ask them to go to Church. Sharing faith is not a matter of telling others what they should do. Sharing faith is about speaking of God at work in our own life… To really share Faith with somebody means to be versatile enough to adapt it to the situation. This takes some real reflecting to see how God has pervaded your life and how God wants you to build bridges with other people.

    As we all face many serious challenges in life, it is the need of the hour to see this as a common ground and share with others how we have learned to navigate life's difficulties because of Jesus. One may have biases of their own. But our common ground is that we are looking for what matters in life. Everyone is pursuing what they believe will give meaning to their life, what will bring them joy; that is part of our common humanity. So, when we speak about our faith as a pearl of great price that we have discovered, it is very different from telling somebody else's story. Isn't it true? So, we have to think about how valuable this life with Jesus is in our own story.

    I A striking story tells about one remote area in western Sudan. Expatriate missionaries, especially priests, Brothers and Sisters, had labored there for many years with few visible results. Then expatriate lay missionaries -- married and single - came to that area and soon many Sudanese people became Catholics. A Sudanese elder explained: "When we saw the priests and Sisters living separately and alone, we didn't want to be like them. But when we saw Catholic families - men, women and children - living happily together, we wanted to be like them." In the family-oriented African society, married missionary couples with children have a powerful and unique witness and credibility.

    A cautioning point is that we should not be telling others what they shouldn't do. Instead, first, we should speak about the value of what we have found; second, invite them to look for a different way that offers them a richness deep in their heart's desire. We must be sharing and witnessing this richness.

    You, my little flock, my parishioners, are the building block St Bernadette depends on – your life and your story have a lot to offer. So, I ask you to reflect and consider more deeply in such a way that you can share with others the story of God at work in you.

In the Service of the Lord,
  Fr Thainese Alphonse


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