These 40 days and 40 nights, immersed in sacred Scripture, retelling the story of Jesus gave much to talk about. Even the moments of silence when Christ was brought up on charges during the trial speak volumes of the one who is the “Word made flesh.”
Jesuit Father Gregory Boyle (during the recent Social Justice Convocation) reminded us of the mission of Jesus by quoting a segment of the Christmas hymn “O Holy Night” … “long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.” Jesus redeems humankind, and we cannot stop speaking of what we have seen and heard. That’s a story worth telling and repeating over and over again.
Our Lenten journey afforded us the opportunity to pray, read Scripture and meet the many who were touched by Jesus in word as well as through action. Many of us walked with Jesus to Calvary, participating in the Stations of the Cross. There we heard Jesus speaking to the women and children, praying for forgiveness of those who persecuted him and asking his beloved disciple John to care for his mother, Mary. The Lenten journey led the Office of African American Catholic Ministries to sponsor a three-week evangelization course to assist parishioners to become confident and comfortable in the evangelizing ministry of telling the world about Jesus. It was a grand experience to witness the faith of 60 disciples willing to increase and enhance their efforts to evangelize because Jesus finds each soul worth redeeming. That’s a story worth telling and repeating which gave cause for participation of parishioners from St. Ann, St. Bernardine, Blessed Sacrament, St. Edward, St. Gregory the Great, St. Peter Claver, St. Ursula, St. Veronica and St. Wenceslaus. St. Ann’s entire Parish Council came and served as our host, offering soup and bread for all before each session.
On March 28, Sister M. Reginald Gerdes, an Oblate Sister of Providence, joined me again at Lexington Market, but this time more Oblates “reported for duty” in this evangelization outreach. Oblate Sister M. Stephen Beauford and Oblate Sister M. Dorothy Yancey brought another level of “joy in the Lord” and witnessed to all we met. Again, people came up to all of them, asking for prayers or just to “touch their hands,” while others shared stories of their families. The Oblate Sisters were prepared with prayer cards and key chains exclaiming the message, “The key to life is to get it right with Christ.” In comprehending the message, some folks chased after the nuns asking for more prayer cards to be shared with their family members.
This same message became the theme of Operation Faith Lift street evangelization effort. Hundreds of Catholics sprawled out throughout the streets of Baltimore going door to door evangelizing the Saturday before Palm Sunday. They were joined in prayer by hundreds who kept a vigil of prayer in the home parishes of New All Saints, St. Ann, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Ambrose, St. Bernardine, Blessed Sacrament, St. Cecilia, St. Edward, St. Gregory the Great, Immaculate Conception, Most Precious Blood, St. Peter Claver, Transfiguration, St. Ursula, St. Veronica and St. Wenceslaus. Together all became a mighty cloud of witnesses proclaiming once again, “The key to life is to get it right with Christ.”
This Easter season inspires us to once again share what we have seen and heard through the redeeming acts of Jesus. Our evangelization efforts should not end at Easter. Instead, we should become revived, renewed and ready to tell the world about Jesus and his love. Father Raymond Harris Jr. said this about the Easter story: “Our God has refused to abandon us to the power of sin and death because Jesus is resolved to redeem us. We are being raised to new life. … We are called to transform and sanctify our society by the power of the Gospel as it is practiced by us.”
Come on, church, let’s continue to “tell the world about Jesus.”
Therese Wilson Favors is the director of the Office of African American Catholic Ministries.