"Amen, amen, I say to you, [insert your name here]: Because you believe in Me, you will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these." (adapted from Saturday's Gospel reading)
Reflection for Saturday:
How to bring loved ones to Christ with God's help
Smiling Jesus was painted by Nancy Moran and is used with permission. Like it? Order it in prints or cards from her website.
Think of the special someone you've been praying for because he or she has left the Church or never had true faith. How do you feel about it?
It's heart-breaking to love someone who is stubbornly rejecting the truth about Jesus. It's hard to watch them suffer the worldly effects of not turning to him to let him be their Savior. You know how important faith in Christ is for their life now, and -- the biggest heart-wrencher -- you fear that they won't spend eternity with you in heaven.
You're not alone if feeling this kind of heart-ache. Many of the prayer requests that come into Good News Ministries are for the conversions of loved ones.
We are called and commissioned by Christ to evangelize. But how can we do this successfully for the ones we care about most?
Jesus would not ask us to partner with him in the mission of salvation if he did not also provide the means for accomplishing it. And remember, he cares more about the salvation of your loved ones than you do!
This is the topic of the podcast I published last Tuesday. In it, I explain that I cannot tell you what works in awakening a Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-filled faith in our loved ones, but I can tell you what doesn't work. I cannot tell you what works, because each case is different.
For some, what works is hitting the bottom of what the world has to offer. We have to wait for their wrong beliefs to fail them -- and most likely it has to fail them again and again before they become interested in finding out what a difference faith in Christ can make. But this doesn't work for everybody. There are plenty of people who remain fully entrapped in their wrong beliefs their whole life long.
Think about what worked for you: What brought you to a fully immersed life in Christ? What converted you? Or what strengthened your faith when you relied more on worldly beliefs than Christian truths? Or what brought you back to church after being away for a while?
Next, think about the conversion stories of others. Then think about your loved ones who need conversion. What might open their minds to the truth?
For me, it happened when a friend explained how God miraculously changes bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus during the Catholic Mass. However, I've not been able to bring anyone else to conversion the same way.
Notice the role God played in my conversion story. Think about the role God played in your own story of conversion or faith growth. None of us can convince someone to change their minds and become a faith-filled believer -- not by our own efforts. God needs to intervene with supernatural help.
This is why Jesus said, in this Saturday's Gospel reading, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these." What was the work of Jesus? Everything he did was for the sake of the salvation of souls. Preaching the truth was just part of how he served as Savior. He also did supernatural works: healing diseases, raising people from the dead, multiplying the food -- etc.
When he sent his disciples out to help him with his mission, he gave them the power to do the same. Later, after his death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, the Holy Spirit empowered every follower of Christ to do the same -- and even greater works. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles is filled with evidence of this. Signs and wonders give testimony to the truths that are preached.
Two thousand years later, much of the Church has lost that original fervor. Most of us have not been taught how to fulfill Christ's command to bring others to conversion. Sure, we know we're supposed to share our faith -- we're supposed to talk about it and we're supposed to live the faith in such a way that our lives prove the veracity of what we say. But something is missing here. Something big. Something essential, absolutely essential.
God's divine, supernatural intervention.
Instead of relying on our lives to prove the truths we teach, we should be relying on God (because we live the truth so imperfectly). Instead of expecting our words to make a difference (and then getting frustrated and angry when we don't succeed), we should -- and can -- expect God to do something supernatural.
So how do we become like the first Christians, so alive in the faith that signs and wonders help us bring others to conversion? There's only one way: a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, which is strengthened by what is often called "baptism of the Spirit" or, as St. John the Baptist called it, "the baptism of fire". It comes from asking for a renewal and charging up of the in-filling of the Holy Spirit we received when we were baptized with water.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill me. Come, Holy Spirit, renew me. Come, Holy Spirit, You have my permission to change me.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Part 1, Episode 6: How to bring loved ones to Christ
Part 2, Episode 7: How God brings our loved ones to Christ
Inside the Ministry:
Work available for a Spirit-filled professional editor
We have a part-time job opening for an experienced, professional editor whose native language is English and who knows how to use Microsoft Word well. Starting pay is $10/hour and the schedule is flexible. The work can be done from any location. We need an editor for written material and also the text of videos and podcasts.
I want to hire someone who is already familiar with Good News Ministries, who loves what we do and has a passion for reaching more souls with the Good News -- so that there is room for growth as a team member in new developments of the future.
For more information, go to gnm.org/about-join/. This proposed editor job is not listed there, but if you are also capable of and interested in anything that is posted there, be sure to include that in the application form. Likewise, if you are fluent in Spanish, be sure to mention that.
Prayers parents can use
Parents who are worried about their teen or adult children's lack of faith can find helpful resources on our website. Prayers for Parents (gnm.org/prayers-for-parents/) offers:
Your servant in Christ,
Terry Modica, Executive Director
Good News Ministries gnm.org
Keep your eyes on Jesus!
Look to the past with gratitude.
Live the present with passion.
Move into the future with hope.
Find creative ways to proclaim the gospel of joy! (Wisdom by Pope Francis)
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From a subscriber named Bobby: "Too often Catholic pencil pushers use their hierarchy of intelligence, throwing out four syllable words, forcing the reader to open a dictionary, promoting self and not Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Other astute writers will quote from everything they have read and springboard into a verse or two from the Bible. What I like about GNM, you present the truth in a simple and non-compromising format that anyone can understand. Jesus taught on the level of the people who were listening."