If you’re searching for an excellent text as a tool for parish evangelization – a plan of action, so to speak, in all ages across cultures, look no further. The initial encounter of the two would-be disciples (Andrew and the other unidentified person, let’s say it’s you) with Jesus begins with the renowned and highly acclaimed prophet pointing them to the lamb of God prompting them to leave him behind. Imaginably, it must have been a poignant scenario as it’s not easy to let go of an inspiring preacher in a heartbeat. At any rate, there’s always someone or something that will bring you to God: a mentor, a shady past, a personal issue or name it.
What are you looking for in 2018? Have you come up with something? or given up before making a move? And the answer is, Teacher! Andrew along with the anonymous fellow says it out loud (italics mine). They are on-the-hunt for someone to teach them about the depths of life, obviously found only in God and the precursor was right on target, Behold! here is the Lamb of God!
A humble invitation to Come and See is the first step in the risky business of evangelization and not, por favor, the flowery- theological- rhetoric. Invitation means belongingness. In the church, the portable baptismal font enjoys its prominence in the aisle to strongly emphasize communal dimension. If baptism is the entry way to friendship with God and members, it must be revived at the ground level – parish community.
To invite even a familiar friend can be overwhelming and terrifying. Expect that for every ten attempts, be lucky to get an average of two. However, the goal is to spread the word as best we can with no stings attached. Although RSVP’s are none of our business, a 10:2 ratio can be discouraging and devastating. Don’t flinch. Remember the calling of the first followers starts with just two ordinary folks: Andrew and the unnamed individual. Once in a while, I receive calls from parents asking me to help them bring back their unchurched daughter(s) to the fold. It’s not rocket science but there are no shortcuts. Come and See. Invite and Welcome.
Any host of an occasion will make sure that the environment is hospitable enough at creating a welcoming atmosphere. Otherwise, don’t even try. In the parish, I’ve done terrible things in the critical area of hospitality (can’t even begin to tell you) and been embarrassed, not once but several times. It was mostly failed attempts and missed opportunities at welcoming visitors.
No further details have been disclosed about the stay. But the fact that they vividly remembered the exact time – until four in the afternoon, of their first encounter with Christ, it must have been extraordinarily memorable, an experience no words will ever give justice. There was no mention of an attempt to convert (if that meant proselytizing) and I’m glad there was none to allow more room for mystery. Andrew broke the news to his brother Peter ‘We have found the Messiah!’ and in effect, introduced him to the Lord. This led to a chain reaction of what eventually became the 12- member core group that has gone viral ever since. Come and See. Amen