As a young teen I was plagued by a life of addiction and violence. At the age of sixteen, suffering from depression, I sought to take my own life. It was there, when I had reached the end of myself that I had an encounter with Christ’s unconditional love. It was a life-changing moment to say the least, but my first reaction to this encounter was not to bask in this incredible love, but rather my heart was suddenly filled with an urgency to tell others about this love which I had experienced.
This initial encounter happened over twenty years ago, but now that urgency to create opportunities for encounters with Jesus is greater than ever. The only difference now is that this takes a whole lot more out of me than it did ten or fifteen years ago. Not because I am getting older, but because the people are apparently more resistant to hearing about religion or anything associated with it.
People have changed. For this reason, the way we proclaim Jesus and His unchanging Love and Truth needs to change. This change, I believe, will cost those who are proclaiming Christ more and more. It will require us to step closer to the cliff edge. To set sail into deeper and more dangerous waters. And not only that, it will require more authenticity, more vulnerability, more of us, more of our hearts held out to people who could hurt it. It will require more of our humanity, allowing people to recognize that we do not have it ‘all together’, yet God loves and accepts us and calls us to follow Him, as He did to St Peter.
It will, in many cases, require persecution and being misunderstood. Criticism. Hatred towards us and at times, even violence against us.
But in all this… let it be done out of an overflow of our honest and vulnerable love for Jesus in prayer, through the Sacraments and our Catholic community. People are lost, hopeless and dying out there, there is no time to waste. It may cost you everything, but really, if you have truly encountered, and continue to encounter Christ, you have no real choice.