Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Evangelisation of Europe

We have just celebrated the Feast day of St Benedict, one of the patrons of Europe. What great benefits and blessings are ours today thanks to the labours of so many of our forefathers (and foremothers) who strove to spread the News about Jesus throughout Europe and to establish in this continent, cultures and society which had as their foundations true evangelical values, values which encouraged the peoples of the land to follow the Master closely and build up in earthly empires, the Kingdom and Empire of God.

What a tragic difference we see today in the aims and values of so many of Europe's leaders. We all know the reality of the situation we are living in: widespread easy availability of abortion, attempts (sometimes successful) to legalise Euthanasia, sexual promiscuity, the breakdown of family life as well as the privatisation and relativisation of religious beliefs.

Though the situation seem dire, we must not become disillusioned (and certainly not conform to the standards and values offered us by our society). "and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

Christ is with his Church, he always has been and always will be. We must be in no doubt that Christ will give us all the means we need to serve him and spread the Gospel to our society as long as we co-operate with his grace.

We should also not become too overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task ahead. For each one of us the only thing we have to concentrate our efforts on is the world with which we have contact. Certainly we can, thanks to modern means of communication, reach communities and projects around the world and assist with these and this is extremely important, but most of our daily life is lived at work, at school or university and at home and it is here that we are called especially to bring Christ's message to humanity. "Each one of us has seriously to ask: What cn I do in my city, in my work place, my university, and any other environment I am in, to help Christ reign more effectively in souls? Consider this question in the presence of God, ask advice and pray. Then, set out with holy determination to win that particular domain for God" (A. del Portillo) through the help and power of his grace.

In the everyday situations in which we find ourselves we can preach Christ to the world. This will not necessarily involve mentioning Christ at all. What is required of us primarily is that we preach Christ through our actions, through always being just and fair, understanding, patient and striving always to radiate the joy of being a follower of the Master. From there we might gain opportunities to speak more explicitly about Christ himself and why we live the way we do. "Preach the Gospel at all times" said St Francis, "use words if necessary".

Of course, none of this will be possible without the grace of God. Our first priority in trying to bring the Gospel to the world around us is to be converted ourselves and allow Christ to reign in us. Christ has given us the means to become the saints he wants us to be, most epecially in the sacraments. Through regular Mass and Confession we grow more and more like Christ whom we meet in these sacraments. In the Eucharist indeed we receive Christ himself who transforms us into his likeness. One of the saints explained that unlike ordinary food which when we consume it we kind of make it part of ourselves, when we receive the Eucharist we become more like what we receive - Christ himself. Apart from these we must also strive to set aside each day time for personal and intimate prayer with the Master, because how can we be like Christ and tell others about him if we are not familiar with him ourselves?

May Christ reign in our own lives, that through us he might reign in the hearts of all. Amen.

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