However, I’ve started to read the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Nuntiandi’ (EN) byPope Paul VI, as part of seeing how the Church envisions evangelisation in our generation; and I have started to see some parallels between events in my own life, particularly as a as a volunteer missionary at SPEC, that have lead me to where I am today.
“He spent His first thirty years living an ordinary life, working quietly, witnessing to the Good News within the context of His family and local community” (Maryvale).
Reading these words makes me relax a little. I have always felt very ordinary; not really the stuff of going and changing the world. Cue reading about the apostles and saints. God seems to like taking ‘ordinary’ and adding a bit of extra: an obvious story is the fish and loaves multiplying to feed the thousands (John 6:1-34). My time at SPEC was full of ‘ordinary’; working, sleeping, eating, talking, praying. But also very full of ‘extraordinary’. I got to witness people come to know more about Jesus, and how he loves them individually, and somehow through the process realise that truth for myself too. With this in mind, I look to our parish ministries: it is not about the numbers or the glitz or even the programme, but about leading hearts to relationship with God, which is more often than not done in the normal, ordinary day-to-day activities done with great love.
“Don’t look for big things; just do small things with great love” Mother Teresa.
“Above all, the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness” (EN 21:1).
Personally, I know that the desire to want ‘more’ in my faith came from living alongside others living an authentic relationship with God. At times they challenged me, but they also lived out what they believed and that made me want to know more. It was a slow process, but one that gently and lovingly challenged and answered. I was loved well and that helped me come to understand more of the person of God and therefore the desire of wanting to know that for myself. Again, that is such an important lesson for our ministry; loving witness that goes beyond the current or norm (EN 21). In effect, Christ-like love. In all I say and do and think and pray.
Christ took the time to be with people, to eat among them, to heal and teach them (EN 6). St Paul advocated this method too, talking often in his letters of visiting communities and spending time with them to share the Gospel. When I apply this to my own ministry, I realise that this is not going to be a quick job, but that it is worth the investment of time and love. Jesus invested in people; he took the time and journeyed alongside them, and so must I.
*These are reflections from going through the Diploma in the New Evangelisation and Youth Ministry at Maryvale Institute of Religious Sciences. If you are interested in a mission year at SPEC find out more here.