Yesterday was the final session of the four-week Adult Faith Formation program we ran at Our Lady of Lourdes, titled Jesus Speaks. In the first session of the series, I talked about Jesus response to the question which commandment of the law is the greatest; in the second session, Fr. Dan Griffith spoke on Jesus’ instruction in the feeding of the multitude, “You yourselves give them something to each; in the third session, our teaching seminarian Grant Theis spoke about Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man, to whom he instructs, “Sell all you have and give to the poor.” In our final session yesterday, Deacon Thom Winninger closed out the series speaking about the command to “go and Proclaim the Gospel to all nations.”
The command to proclaim the Gospel is a universal one, which means that we all must reflect on what it is we are called to proclaim and what it is that inhibits us from wholeheartedly following the command. Thom made the point that if we can’t define what it is we are called to proclaim, we can’t very well do an effective job.
In talking about what it means to proclaim the Gospel, Thom suggested that many Catholics today are defensive about their faith, whereas Jesus was never defensive; he always affirmatively preached the Kingdom. A defensive response, Thom argued, is not a proclamation of the Gospel.
He made a related point in talking about prayer. Don’t pray not to sin; that is defensive. Instead, he suggested pray to grow in virtue, an affirmative prayer; if we grow in virtue, that will lead us away from sin.
While I need to think some more about his offense/defense distinction and how far it takes us, it seemed to me worth sharing, especially since I think he is correct that many Christians today are defensive about their faith.
Note: Each of the sessions of the series was video-recorded and will soon be available on the parish website.