It feels like just last month that the Year of Faith was launched by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. How very fast that ‘last month’ flies. And in these ‘last months’ we are moving fast towards the end of 2013.
Looking back, I realised I didn’t really accomplished anything great in the Year of Faith, sad to say. All the books I planned to finish by the end of 2013 are only half way through. That includes Lumen Fidei, which I enthusiastically awaited and picked up but never got round to finishing it. The most I’ve done was taking a little time reading the column in Today’s Catholic (our archdiocesan newspaper) on the Creed.
Is doing lots of readings and reflections, attending seminars and going for pilgrimages really enough to increase our faith and make us evangelisers? After all, Year of Faith was about learning more about my own faith and helping the others come to know about it (evangelisation and re-evangelisation). Wasn’t it so?
I thought so initially. But after a series of unpleasant experiences I’ve encountered this year, I came to understand many things a little differently.
I learned that no amount of reading would be able to increase my faith. I’m not lacking in ‘head knowledge’. (It’s not difficult at all to search for materials and read more on Christian Faith.) It is not so much about how much I know about the Faith, but how I can feel for others and identify myself with them (i.e. ‘heart knowledge’).
I learned that to evangelise, I must first be re-evangelised. It is not so much about how well I can preach, but how I live my life as a true witness to the Gospel. The most effective way to evangelise is through our own example, for action speaks louder than words.
I learned that when I’m all puffed up with pride, thinking that I know more than others and re-evangelisation is not for me, then I would not be able to grow spiritually because I’m too full of myself.
And I learned that the Church, although an institution, cannot be too institutional. For our main business has nothing to do with money, status, reputation or personal gain, but souls entrusted to us by Christ our Bridegroom. The most effective way to deal with people is by going back to the Gospel values, following the example of Christ.
To me, that is what evangelisation and re-evangelisation is all about. It is recognising that Christ is the centre of everything – our life and work, the church, the world, and acknowledging Him as the very reason we are who we are today – His coheirs of the heavenly Kingdom.
The Year of Faith might have come to an end last Sunday, but our journey of faith continues. I pray that the Lord would touch the hearts of many through the example of our daily living – may we preach by our actions, not by words.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn 13:35, NIV)