Today’s find: Evangelization 101

Ok, so maybe it didn’t break the space-time continuum exactly. But it was still kinda weird to witness something of a time-warp yesterday.

“Witness.” That’s a good word for it, I think. Almost like a homework assignment…from the Evangelization 101 Workshop I attended at St. Gerard Majella.

In truth, I wasn’t really supposed to be there. My parish family is set to attend a different session of the workshop in a couple of weeks – but a schedule conflict will keep me from joining in with all the folks I know pretty well from St. Joe’s.

So when I got to the session yesterday, I pretty much expected to be among strangers – and that was more or less the case: Among the 200 or so in attendance, I recognized only five or six people.

But an intriguing thing happened about half-way through the workshop. The facilitator asked for a show of hands: “How many of you here have served on an ACTS team?” And about 60 or 70 people immediately raised their arms.

“Hmmm, never saw that coming,” I thought to myself. I sure didn’t expect so strong a showing in a room full of perfect strangers. And I certainly couldn’t have imagined it some 20 years ago, when I was blessed to attend the first-ever ACTS retreat in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

I can promise for a fact that neither I nor the rest of the guys who attended that retreat were expecting to be “in at the start” of a movement. But 20 years hence – there was the proof, in flesh and blood: Close to half the room had their “ACTS arms” raised up in the air.

Granted, it’s the kind of miracle that speaks to a rather limited audience: Only 17 or 18 guys – the St. Louis area’s “inaugural” ACTS retreatants – can really appreciate what I’m talking about. But maybe that’s the point. The Holy Spirit tends to stir things up, in ways that we do not expect.

In fact, it might take a guy 20 years to realize that the Holy Spirit is speaking to him, personally, through the prophet Ezekiel (whose name means “God strengthens”) on this Fifth Sunday of Lent:

I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; 
thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.

And maybe also through the words of St. Paul:

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.

Sure, my name is John – not Lazarus (whose name means “God helps”). But having seen what I just saw yesterday (and what I’ve been seeing for the past 20 years), is it so unreasonable to think that I can perhaps catch a glimpse of myself…in Jesus’ friend?

The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”


Hmmm…so THIS is how God moves in our world?

Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.


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