“Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem … devout men from every nation under heaven…They were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language…‘And how is it that we hear, each in his own native language?…we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.'” Acts 2: 5-12
Most of us have loved ones who are not interested in spiritual things. Some are hostile to anything having to do with your faith, though most, I’m guessing, are simply indifferent. They’re doing fine, they feel, so don’t trouble them about your beliefs; that’s “private”. “Don’t proselytize”, they say, whatever you do.
Yet we’re sent on mission (co- missioned) by none other than Jesus Christ himself to exactly that: to “make disciples”, not to keep our faith private. Sure, we’re not to be obnoxious, but we are to be visible, public. We’re to be “winsome”; our faith is to be lived out in an attractive way which invites inquiry about how we live. We’re to be so joyful and peaceful – both qualities not only attractive to others, but desperately wanted by them in their own lives – that they are led to ask us, “what’s up with you?” (see 1 Peter 3:15).
It’s discouraging when those closest to us are quick to shut us down and discount anything we say about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We love them, but we can’t say anything without creating more discord and division.
A couple of weeks ago was the feast of Pentecost, when we commemorate when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Apostles. Sure, they were accused of being drunkards by some, but there was an amazingly positive response. Indeed, Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.
At Mass, I was thinking about members of my own family who don’t have that intimate friendship with God through Christ; some who either deny belief in God, or see Him as just a force, not a Person with whom one might actually have a relationship.
Suddenly, I had a wonderful thought: the God who was able to speak to each one present at Pentecost 2,000 years ago is certainly able to speak to each of my family members in a “language” they can each understand! The Holy Spirit can surely tell to each of them “the wonders of God” in a way they can receive and begin to respond to! It’s really not up to me, though I must still do my part: pray for them faithfully; speak humbly when small opportunities present themselves; and above all, love them sacrificially. But it’s not my responsibility; it’s my response to His ability that’s going to make a difference.
That’s the encouragement of Pentecost; that’s what God can do!