I once heard evangelization described by this simple, three-part formula: Be a friend of Jesus. Make a friend. Introduce your friend to Jesus.
Our gospel reading this Sunday shows Jesus inviting his early disciples to follow Him and letting them know the mission they will be given: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mk 1:14-20)
His very presence and the power of his invitation must have been incredibly compelling because their response is immediate and whole-hearted: “Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.” In the account, we have Simon and Andrew and James and John becoming his disciples (and apostles) immediately.
The invitation to become a friend of Jesus brings with it a call to center our lives on him, to turn away from all that would lead us astray. Jesus’ invitation was preceded by words of a challenge: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk 1:14-20)
We will hear this passage again on Ash Wednesday (coming in less than a month). We might think of repentance as a burden, but his followers see it as part of the gift we receive in Jesus.
Friendship with Jesus means there is a better way to live – full of purpose and hope and eternal life. As our lives are more centered on him, we become more the people God wants us to be. More vibrant living, not less. More joy. More love.
That renewed life should be attractive to those around us. Our friends should see signs that being a disciple is joyful, being friends with Jesus is a great gift. Our response to Jesus includes a commitment to sharing him with others.
As we make friends, there should come a time when we naturally let them know that Jesus is most important to us. We share with friends lots of irrelevant information. That’s natural and part of the pattern of good friendships. If we share things that are not important, we should also begin to let them know what is important, or better yet, “who” is important. We introduce them to Jesus.
If being a friend of Jesus is part of our basic pattern of life, then others should know and be given a chance to join in. We don’t impose, but propose. We share and trust in the Holy Spirit. That is how we become “fishers” of the men and women around us.
Be a friend of Jesus. Make a friend. Introduce your friend to Jesus.
The Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Diocese of Gary