Ave Maria Meditations
“And he said to them, Go out all over the world and preach the gospel to the whole of creation.” (Mk 16:15)
All of life’s circumstances are good for apostolate
Every Christian is called to extend the Kingdom of Christ. Every social circumstance is a good opportunity for bringing this about. However God opens a door for the word in order to declare the mystery of Christ, then the living God and He whom He has sent for the salvation of all, Jesus Christ, are confidently and perseveringly proclaimed to all men. In the face of cowardliness, laziness, or excuses, we have to keep in mind that many people depend on our word and example if they are to receive the grace to follow Christ more closely. We can never stop doing apostolate with the people whom God has placed by our side. The means used may differ, but the end is always the same.
There are many, many different ways for people to be drawn to the Lord. Let us maintain, therefore, our fervor of spirit. Let us preserve the sweet and heartfelt joy of evangelizing even when we have to sow in tears. We cannot give in to thinking that adverse circumstances are an obstacle to the apostolate. Difficulties can serve as a means for extending Christ’s teaching as was shown by the first Christians and by so many others who have suffered for the Faith. St Paul wrote to the Philippians from his prison cell: Most of the brethren have been made confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, and are much more bold to speak the word of God without fear. Even though some had been preaching out of envy, with a lack of right intention, the Apostle exclaims: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice.” Yes, and I shall rejoice.
Our most important goal is that we draw closer to Christ from day to day. The Lord invites everyone to this work. There is no room for a “one party” mentality in this divine progress. The Church has never wanted to force her children into one specific spirituality. On the contrary, she has always valued the great variety of spiritual paths and apostolates available to her children. There is no doubt that work, rest, social life, sport, can all provide chances to bring people to God. Contradictions and even downright persecution can also teach us to treat others with charity. These conditions can train us how to love our enemy. St Polycarp, bishop and martyr, wrote about this form of education in his letter to the Philippians… He asks the faithful to abstain from critical spirit and false accusations, thereby returning evil for evil, insult for insult, blow for blow. Remember instead the words of the Lord who taught us: Do not judge, and you will not be judged, forgive and you will be forgiven; have compassion and you will be understood. The measure you measure will be used against you. Blessed are those who suffer persecution, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
We need not to respond in kind to ill treatment. If we need to defend ourselves we should by all means do so, but always with respect for the person involved. We must teach others that our actions are inspired by the charity of Christ. All apostolate that takes place in the shadow of the Cross is fruitful.
Charity is the bond of unity and the foundation of the apostolate.
Whatever form our apostolate takes and whatever reception it gets, charity must always inform our activities. The Lord made this very clear when He said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another…Friendship is the basis of all apostolate. We should really care for our neighbors, even though this may take some effort at first…The ministry of evangelization requires of the evangelizer a fraternal and ever-increasing love for those whom he is evangelizing. We have to see in each person his or her value as a child of God….We who have received the gift of faith should feel the need to share it with others. This effort should e the prime motivation of our life….with the lives of the first Christians as our model, we should examine the actuality of our apostolate in the middle of the world.
Fr. Francis Fernandez