We all know the drill. You have been hanging out with someone for a while. You both get along and have a lot in common. Your friendship is flowering, and it seems so natural. A good friendship is hard to come by, and you are wondering if you should take the risk. Is it worth losing my friendship? As you ponder it more and more, the question becomes more pressing: Should I invite my friend to Church?
As humorous as my little parody may seem, asking someone to go to Church is one of the most awkward and uncomfortable moments we can face. Most avoid it altogether, and for many, religion is off limits when it comes to friendships. The general culture is that religion is a realm of pleasant sentiments and quant stories. Like other aspects of one’s life, it is okay to have a “spiritual” side, but the idea of missionary activity or the active promotion of a set of beliefs seems like an antiquated form of authoritarianism.
Yet, all Catholics are called to be missionary disciples. We are called to share Jesus Christ with the world, not out of a sense of superiority, but rather as the natural extension of love. For the love of Christ to be authentic, it must well up within us and compel us to share that love with others. Christ unsettles our established ways of thinking, awakening us to a whole new reality that is not meant to remain the isolated possession of our limited selves, but rather a path to transformation for our society and the world.
I may not be sure if and when someone should consider inviting their non-Catholic friends to Church, but I am sure that to know a disciple of Christ means that someone should come to know the Lord. If we are truly conformed to the mysteries that we celebrate, our witness will shine before the world as Christ comes to dwell within us. Our vocation is not to simply be “nice” people in a quest for mediocrity, but rather we are destined for greatness in Christ. This greatness is summarized well by St. Paul when he writes, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
Today, let us dare to be intimate friends of Jesus Christ. Let us allow him to take full possession of our lives so that in all things we may allow him to work in us and through us. Let us flee from all things which prevent our true flourishing in Christ, so that we can discover the pearl of great price which is nothing short of God’s divine life dwelling within.