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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment,

Luke 9:1-9

Believe it or not, Christ did not expect His apostles, disciples, or us to beat our heads against a brick wall when evangelizing. This may come as a surprise to some of my readers, but even though we are called to evangelize by our baptismal vows, God understands the hearts and minds of people.

Not all people respond to the Good News. I was speaking to a dear old lady this morning from Church. She talked about how in the old days, over 100 years ago, when her ancestors were the first generation born here, that most people fell away from, as she said it, "being Church-going people".

In other words, after their parents had come from Ireland or France, or England, the next generations fell away. Some, who were Episcopalians, converted when they married Catholics, but the Faith was not strong, and some slid back.

There are two main points in the passage from Luke I want to emphasize.

One, Christ sent his disciples out in TWOS. Individual evangelization is too hard, and does not bear the fruit a team can muster.

When I worked as a college "lay" minister years ago, in three colleges and in the student "parish", I worked with a team of four. Four of us split up twelve colleges and universities, (this was in London), and we each went individually into three. It was hard work. But, working mostly with the other three was a great comfort and joy. We encouraged each others' gifts.

I worked in the Royal College of Art, Chelsea Art College, and Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine. I had to create my own ways of evangelizing.

After three months, it was clear that no one at Chelsea was interested in either being a Catholic or in coming to Bible studies, Masses, events, or being catechists, etc.

So, I concentrated on the two other colleges and the student hostel, organizing Catholic women's groups, organizing a series on the sacraments with priests coming in to give excellent talks, retreats, Bible studies, etc.

Three vocations to the priesthood came out of those groups.

I dusted the dust off of my feet and went where people were responding and worked with those students. It was very rewarding. I loved every minute of the day.

Christ's point is that not all people will respond to His grace to be converted and follow Him. But, some do. The evangelist who wastes times trying with one group may be starving the other groups who needs his attention.

Sometimes, one just has to walk away.

This is not "un-Christian", as the words come from Our Lord Himself.

[1] Then calling together the twelve apostles, he gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. [2] And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. [3] And he said to them: Take nothing for your journey; neither staff, nor scrip, nor bread, nor money; neither have two coats. [4] And whatsoever house you shall enter into, abide there, and depart not from thence. [5] And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off even the dust of your feet, for a testimony against them. 

Three more points. 

"for a testimony against them" means a warning. In other words, those people had the chance to change, to convert, to begin the journey to Christ and did not. Christ, therefore, removes His ministers as a warning that these people do not have the luxury not to respond.

Did some of those villages never convert? Did some regret not taking in Andrew, James, John and later, Paul?

Did some of those people go to hell for refusing to listen?

Sometimes we cannot "leave" as the unbelievers are in our families or at work. Then, our loving example may bring them around. We may have to suffer much. 

Scott Hahn had to wait for his wife to change her heart about the Catholic Church. It was hard, but real men can take suffering. The love they shared got them through the hard times.

But, if we are around people, (another aspect to consider), who are dragging us down and attempting, even passively, to tear us away from our Faith, we must get away from those people. Some people are, sadly, malicious, and against religion. But, some people are just lazy, unwilling to change, bound up with the goods of this world.

But, here is the last point. When does one decide to leave a situation?

I have one friend who has been trying to convert her family for years. When she visits them, she is actually verbally abused.

This is not what we are supposed to do. We are not to put ourselves in abusive situations. This is a false martyrdom. If suffering comes to us, fine. We are not to seek it out.

So, when do we leave? We need to pray about this and pray that God will bring other people into the lives of these closed ones to open them up to hear the Good News.

Here some examples of leaving and dusting the dust off of one's sandals.

I tried to get some charismatics away from a New Age false healing "ministry" which was pretending to be Catholic. I spoke with these women six or seven times. Then, realizing they were not open, I walked away.

I tried to stop some good people from following The Warning. After three months, I walked away, as they were too enamored with the false writings to be open.

I tried help a man in a bad relationship with his wife-he was a close relative and an alcoholic. He had married an alcoholic. She refused to discuss this and so he did not address it. Now, they are divorced and both are still drinking. I tried for about two years. And, then I walked, as I had to move.

I go to those who want to deepen their Faith and learn to be holy. I want to teach those who are open.

For those who evangelize the pagans, which I do sometimes, I suggest much fasting and prayer.

Only the Holy Spirit can move hearts, and some people just do not want to be moved.

One more example.

Eve sinned first. Adam did not have to cave in and sin as well. They both knew perfectly well what they were doing.

If Adam had not sinned, we would not be in Original Sin at birth. The sin is the sin of Adam as he was Eve's authority. He did not want to "leave" her or "upset" her.

Too many men sin because of their wives and too many wives sin because of their husbands.

Maybe, sometimes, to save one's own soul, to be true to God, one must walk. Adam chose Eve over God.

I know one person who did this, as her husband refused to repent of several mortal sins. After some  years, she divorced him as he was dragging her down. She got an annulment.

Pray, reflect, act. Remember, Jesus never ran after anyone. He called them. And, some He had to let go, like the Rich Young Man.

In the last two generations, there are many, many rich young men and young women. They do not want to enter the narrow gate. Too many young people have never had to work for anything, so working for their salvation and the salvation of others is not their "thing".

From Matthew 10:

[11] And into whatsoever city or town you shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till you go thence. [12] And when you come into the house, salute it, saying: Peace be to this house. [13] And if that house be worthy, your peace shall come upon it; but if it be not worthy, your peace shall return to you. [14] And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words: going forth out of that house or city shake off the dust from your feet. [15] Amen I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.