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Witnessing, not Proselytizing

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Sermon shared by W Pat Cunningham

July 2010
Summary: We can only evangelize the people within the culture of death by understanding the culture and standing with the people to share the Word of God.
Denomination: Catholic
Audience: Believer adults
Monday of 16th Week in Course
July 19, 2010

I did an informal survey of the network TV commercials one evening and was not surprised at the results. Most of the ads were for automobiles and trucks. The rest were for discretionary purchases or for merchandise you couldn’t advertise on radio or TV thirty years ago. All of this “stuff” is supposed to make us happy, but none of it can do so. God has showed us what can make us happy: it is the good. And it involves not what we should buy but what we should do: act justly, love in loyalty, and walk humbly with our God.

The ironies of our day are too many to count. The one that seems to hit the front page almost daily has the New York Times and CBS News, which never met an abortion they didn’t like, lecturing the Catholic Church on morality and canon law. The irony is that they are trying to turn the best friend of humankind into a monster. The teachings of Christ, conserved and proclaimed by the Bride, the Church, are the only truths that can get us out of the hole we have dug for ourselves by our sin. Lose that hope and humanity has lost it all.

Archbishop Gomez tells us that we need to understand our culture from the “inside out–its values and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses, its positive and negative aspects. We need to always be on the lookout” (25) for new ways to spread the Gospel in “arts, politics, media, business, science, research; even to the fields of sports and popular entertainment.” (26)

This is not proselytizing. Proselytism involves standing outside the world and pronouncing judgement, much like the people who stand outside arenas with placards telling the promoters they are going to hell. The laity must stand with the people who need Christ, perform their work “to the highest possible standards and with a Christian perspective.” This requires you to show through your work and through your friendships with your colleagues, “the harmony between faith and reason, and the new insights that are possible if we think of creation and discovery as something we do in partnership with our Creator.” Don’t keep your faith to yourself, or you will just be allowing the culture to insulate itself from the voice of the Redeemer. You are the “key to preventing that from happening.” If you are silent, materialism and consumerism will dominate.
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