January 19, 2020 - Pastor Message02/28/2020
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP PART 8: DIALOGUE (CONT.) “Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members of one another…No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that they may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:25, 29 30).
Continuing our reflection on dialogue as a vital part of discipleship, last weekend we looked at the importance of our actions in communicating the Gospel to those we meet. This weekend we look at our words and the way that what we say to others impacts their coming to Christ. While animals have the ability to communicate the simplest ideas to one another through their chirping or growling there is danger here, there is food here, etc. human beings are the only creatures on Earth capable of communicating the complex idea of salvation in Christ the Gospel message. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that this is the ultimate reason that God gives us the gift of speech, to announce his wonders to others. Certainly it serves other, pragmatic purposes, but the supreme goal of human speech is to give glory to God.
That being the case, we have to admit that we do not always use our gift of speech for that purpose. Sadly, we often fall far short of that goal. Whether in foul language, gossip, shouting at others in anger, dishonesty, or whatever, many times our words do not give God glory or announce the Gospel message but rather turn others away from us and away from Christ. This is often not intentional but simply a bad habit. We need to become more aware of our language and choose our words more carefully to serve the purpose for which God has given us the gift of speech.
We also need to realize, however, that not every word that comes out of our mouths needs to be “Jesus.” Not everyone is ready to hear the Gospel message in its fullness, and so we need to engage in pre-evangelization. We need to prepare the field of people’s hearts and minds before we can plant the seeds of God’s Word if we want the seeds to grow. That means engaging others in basic, friendly conversation, getting to know them and letting them get to know us, and building friendships with others so that they become ready to hear the Gospel. There is a saying in the Cursillo movement for this dynamic: make a friend, be a friend, lead a friend to Christ. By using our words to accomplish this goal, be become true disciples of Christ. Let us commit as a parish and as individuals to this goal in the New Year and say the good things people need to hear.
Fr. Marc Stockton