Thursday, October 23, 2008

For I see no reason to be ashamed of the Gospel

Meditation of the Day
from Saturday, Oct. 18
Magnificat

The Missionary Love of the Seventy Two

A missionary love moved Saint Paul to be preoccupied with winning others for Christ. He was willing to adapt his behavior as required to remove unnecessary barriers. Absorbed by the ardor of his love, he did whatever was necessary to win people for the truth. He was convinced that the truth about God's love for us in Christ is the greatest of all goods, that it alone brings happiness and fulfillment.

Paul's love was fueled by his experience of the Gospel's power to save. "For I see no reason to be ashamed of the Gospel; it is God's power for the salvation of everyone who has faith" (Rom 1: 16). Thus, he fulfilled the command to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mk 12: 31). So must we all. If I love myself by following the Spirit's witness in my heart and accept the Gospel in faith—all that God has revealed as taught by the Church—if I have experienced the full life brought by the transcending, liberating, integrating power of the truth, then love compels me to desire the truth for others. This kind of love is what prompted the Church to name Saint Thérèse of Lisieux the patroness of missionaries, though she herself never went on a formal mission.

This places the challenge to continue Christ's prophetic mission where it belongs. As Christians deepen their experience of the truth it will happen automatically. Our witness to Christ will flow from the deepest part of our being; our words will have the force of personal conviction in the power of the Spirit of truth...

It is difficult to reveal the truth if we think it irksome to others. Yet, we know that with grace the struggle with truth in the conscience can lead to conversion. Our own experience testifies that the truth is best, that it is our greatest good and the greatest good of our neighbor, "that truth makes man what he is. His relationship with truth is the deciding factor in his human nature and it constitutes his dignity as a person... Truth has a divine dimension; it belongs by nature to God himself... Every man is born into the world to bear witness to the truth according to his own particular vocation... Jesus said very clearly that the truth must not be denied to men or concealed from them (see Mt 5: 14 16) but must be openly professed (Mt 10: 32). Truth has a social, a public dimension. Therefore man's right to the truth must never be denied" (Pope John Paul II).

DOUGLAS G. BUSHMAN

Douglas Bushman is director of the Institute for Pastoral Theology at Ave Maria University. He received his S.T.L. degree from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.