Evangelizing our Friends and Family
O Clarim News Bureau (English)
Dear Father L.
Warm greetings from Zambia. I am a Catholic and got interested in reading the letters sent to you and your short but straightforward answers. I am sending you my letter from Zambia, a beautiful country located in south-central Africa. Zambia is the most urbanized country in Africa; over half of its population lives in cities and towns. I belong to a charismatic Catholic group and am very active in my parish. At some point, every Christian has had a family member, a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance who is not a Christian. Sharing the gospel with others can be difficult, and it can become even more challenging when it involves someone with whom we have close emotional ties. Father, I want to share my faith with my family and friends. How can I evangelize my friends and family without pushing them away?
And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Luke 4:24
Sharing the Gospel with your family is not always as easy as sharing it with a stranger. Conversely, listening to the Gospel message from a family member is not always as easy as hearing it from someone else. Why is that?
It may be that familiarity with another, such as the familiarity we have with family members, can tempt us to lack a certain confidence in their convictions and in their Christian witness. Though this is certainly not true of every relationship we have, it can be the case with some. Children, at times, will not put as much confidence in the words of a parent as they may with another. Siblings may not be as open to advice from each other as they are from other people.
Perhaps one of the reasons for this experience is that we are often far more critical of those we know well than those we do not know. It’s easy to allow our long history of personal experience to hinder our openness toward family members. This is especially the case with the negative experiences we have had over the years. So often, we hold onto negative experiences and hurts from year to year and we allow those experiences to become a filter for anything that a family member says or does.
This statement from Jesus, that “no prophet is accepted in his own native place,” should challenge us to make sure we do not fall into this tendency. We should do what we can to make sure that we do accept the prophetic witness shared with us from our own family members.
The best way to do this is to make sure that we regularly strive to purge any “baggage” we carry in those relationships. Very often, we carry the baggage of hurt, anger and resentment without even realizing it. We also quickly focus on the weaknesses of family members since we easily witness their shortcomings as a result of being close to them.
Reflect, especially, upon whether you allow yourself to look beyond their weaknesses and sins so as to see the goodness of God at work in their lives. There is much that God wants to say to you through them. Make sure you have not closed that door and are willing to accept them as a messenger of the Gospel.
May I invite you to pray: Dearest Lord, I thank You for my family. I thank You for the gift that they have been in my life. Help me to show mercy and forgiveness to them as needed daily. Help me to be open to Your voice speaking through them every day. Jesus, I trust in You.
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Source of content: mycatholic.life