“Let others complain that the age is wicked; my complaint is that it is wretched, for it lacks passion,” said the 19th century Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. If you want passion, thumb through the Church’s martyrology! Today, we celebrate the first martyr, St. Stephen, who boldly proclaimed the crucified Lord to a people unwilling to embrace the saving lordship of Jesus Christ.
In these days, we have been plunged into a bitter darkness by the revelations of wolves in shepherd’s clothing. Rather than draw us away, this scandal should draw us closer to the reason for our faith—Jesus Christ. As my good friend, George Weigel, recently said: “… the Church is being called to a great purification through far more radical fidelity to Christ, to Catholic teaching and to Catholic mission.” Now is the time for a radical proclamation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, whose light overcomes every darkness.
And how are we to do this in the face of such disheartening scandal? Like a child would, by trusting in their Father. We begin by turning more intently to our first love (cf. Rev 2:4). “Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.” Jesus loved us through a complete gift of himself, and the only fitting response is for us to proclaim him to our neighbor, even unto a red martyrdom of death or a white martyrdom of long-suffering endurance. We live in a world that is suffering without the consolation of Jesus Christ, so we ought to heed his words to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). This is the method of evangelization that Christ offered us, which I articulated in my recent book, Making Missionary Disciples: How to live the Method Modeled by the Master.
To reach the world for Christ, we must be all in. God gave his only-begotten Son so that we could have eternal life; it should be of little surprise that a lukewarm response will leave us flat (cf. Jn 3:16; Rev 3:16). Like St. Stephen, we are called to a boldness in proclaiming the truth, love and kingdom of Jesus Christ and a courage in bearing the consequences of that witness, whatever they might be. Daunting? Absolutely! Possible? Only by God’s grace. The world is waiting for our passionate response.
Curtis Martin is Founder of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and author of Making Missionary Disciples: How to live the Method Modeled by the Master. FOCUS Contact Info: 303.962.5750, email@example.com