And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, am a minister (Colossians 1:21-23).
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
What would be your reaction if someone told you that you were called to be a minister of the Gospel? Rather than say, “No way,” would you be willing to echo Paul’s words and say, “Yes, that is my call as a Catholic man.” Could you then talk about the gospel as something of which you are a minister? You can. This is the calling of every Christian, not just of priests and missionaries and nuns. Jesus wants all of us to become the mouthpiece of his good news. He wants all of us to tell the story about God’s love for his people. And Paul himself can give us a few pointers on how to effectively do that.
Just how did Paul go from being a “minister” of persecution, to becoming a minister of the gospel? Well, the surprising transformation began during his powerful encounter with the risen Lord on the road toDamascus. Jesus told Paul that he, who was on a mission to arrest Christians, would become his “chosen instrument” to spread the gospel to the Gentiles—and at great personal cost! This encounter dramatically changed Paul’s life. Just as Jesus had promised, Paul now spent all his energies in sharing the good news of Christ with everyone around him.
Take a look at Acts 22:1-21 and 26:2-23, two occasions when Paul—the great theologian—shares the story of his conversion. There’s not much speculative theology in these stories, is there? Instead, Paul gives an account of how he met the Lord Jesus, and how the encounter changed his life. Simple, straightforward, and compelling.
Anyone can do this! And everyone is called to do it. The first thing to do is try to write down what you might say to someone. Then pray, with expectant faith, that God will open doors for you. And then, keep your eyes open for the opportunities Jesus gives you to share your faith experience with someone else. When the opportunities come, you might talk about how prayer brings you God’s peace. You might talk about how the Mass brings you close to Jesus and fills you with gratitude that he has saved you from sin. Perhaps, you know someone who is going through some tough times, and you can invite that person to pray with you.
The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37-38). Let’s ask the Lord of the harvest for the grace and the courage to be his laborer, and to be a minister of the Gospel.
“Lord, I ask for the courage to go out into your harvest, and I ask for the grace to be a witness and minister of your gospel.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- How would you answer this question posed at the beginning of the article: “What would be your reaction if someone told you that you were called to be a minister of the Gospel?”
- The article goes on to state that this is the “the calling of every Christian, not just of priests and missionaries and nuns. Jesus wants all of us to become the mouthpiece of his good.” Was this what you were taught in your Catechism classes or in Catholic school? If not, do you believe this now? Why or why not?
- Paul’s life was “dramatically changed” when he had a “powerful encounter with the risen Lord.” Have you ever had a personal encounter with Jesus, for example at Mass when you receive the Eucharist or during a time of prayer? How did it impact your life or your faith? Do you think such encounters with the Lord are necessary (or important) for your faith to grow? Why or why not?
- In Acts 22:1-21 and 26:2-23, Paul shares the story of his conversion. How would you describe your own conversion story, whether it was a dramatic conversion experience or a gradual conversion process? Have you ever shared it with someone? If not, would you be willing to do so? If not, why not?
- The article describes a simple three-step approach for being a minister of the Gospel, as follows: 1) try to write down what you might say to someone, 2) pray, with expectant faith, that God will open doors for you, and 3) keep your eyes open for the opportunities Jesus gives you to share your faith experience. Experiment with this approach over the next few months. If you are in a men’s group share any fruits that result from it during your meetings.
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the graces and courage you need to answer his call to be a minister of the Gospel. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.