|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inspire and Then Invite
Growing up as a child I learned to ride a bike with training wheels. At that moment, I could never conceive that I could ever have ridden a bike without those wheels. Then one day, my Dad takes off the training wheels. I said, “You destroyed my bike! What did you do?” He said, “No, no, no. You can do it. Just go.” He pushed me and off I went. I was terrified at first and then it was so cool! I can do it. I never looked back at training wheels ever again.
The time from Easter to the feast day the Ascension could be considered the training wheel days for the disciples! Jesus was regularly with his disciples, encouraging them, and assuring them and basically training them in the way of the Spirit. Then came the day to take off the training wheels, the Ascension. They must have thought, “Where is Jesus going? Don’t leave us!” He said, “You can do it on your own now. I’ll send my Spirit to be with you.” He goes away and they are on their own. They could never have conceived life without Jesus. For 40 days after his death and resurrection, they have him around and they did not want to be without him again.
He does the inevitable, he leaves them saying, “I will put my Spirit within you. I will not be with you anymore but I will send you another and he will fill your hearts. He will be with you forever.” They begin to proclaim the Gospel to everyone and baptize anyone who would listen. The world has heard that message for over 2,000 years. You and I are part of that same outpouring of the spirit.
In so many ways, we are still using our training wheels, we are still not that confident we can go out and make disciples of other people. We often think “That it is not my job as a disciple but rather your job as a priest.” It is both. As a priest, I have a different job of organizing and celebrating but it is everyone’s role to proclaim.
We must take the Word we hear and turn it into witness. We witness by our lives. We witness by caring for one another, forgiving one another, reaching out and making a difference in the world. Then we can ask people to come to church or to come with us on a project.
But we must know Christ if we are to witness to Christ. Otherwise, we just are on training wheels. Otherwise, we are still relying on someone else to do the work. That is not being a Christ follower. That is not being a true disciple of Christ. We go forth today picking up the bible, knowing it and witnessing to it in our lives by being people of forgiveness and love. We can invite but we must first inspire.