So yesterday we started our diocesan Five-Year Plan for evangelizing Virginia. We have the privilege of taking part in the New Evangelization and sharing in the glory of the Holy Apostles. Wonderful and exciting.
But today at Holy Mass we read about: 1) the army of the Lord suffering a ruinous defeat and losing the Ark of the Covenant, and 2) the Lord Jesus Himself telling a zealous believer: “See that you tell no one anything.”
To my humble and inadequate mind, one myth stands as the greatest enemy of the New Evangelization. Namely: the idea that God wills me to control what another adult does.
One thing that the true apostle of Christ has never done: try to control what anybody else does. We can study the New Testament and the history of evangelical saints through the millennia. We will find not a single instance of any holy apostle of Christ trying to control what anybody else does.
Our mission is to bear witness to the truth. The truth has power. The truth invites. The truth attracts and moves people towards what is right. We do not control. We are profitless servants who merely do our duty.
I’ll speak for myself: I have more than enough trouble trying to do the right thing myself. Doing the right thing, with another person as the instrument of my well-doing–like for me to try to fulfill the third commandment by someone else going to Mass on Sunday–that’s not something I could pull off, even if I wanted to. I have to go to Mass myself, sure enough. (In fact, I have to celebrate the Masses, since I am the only priest living within the confines of these here two counties.)
But I can’t control what anybody else does. That said, maybe, if I try to control myself well enough that I serve as a halfway decent witness to at least a few of the glorious truths of Catholic Christianity, maybe then someone else might just get interested enough to want to join in.
I can’t control what anyone else does, and certainly the Lord is not asking me to try. But I can try to swim in the great stream of the New Evangelization by controlling myself as best I can, according to the Ten Commandments.