At the end of every Mass, we are told to “Go out and share the Gospel.” As the congregation begins to leave somewhere between beating the priest out the door, to leaving right at the end of the first verse, to leaving at the end of the chorus, to actually waiting to the end of the concluding song, we seem to lose that message of the gospel as we cut off other Church goers in the parking lot on our way out.
Pondering this realization, and “what would Jesus do”, is this really what Jesus taught us just a mere thirty minutes ago in the Gospel? Probably not. Definitely not! So where do we go from here? This is what The Missionary of Wall Street by Stephen F. Auth sets out to teach us. That just as he put God in a “Sunday-morning box. The other six and a half days of the week were mine” until he got a wake-up call, this is our wake-up call to live the Gospel right here where we are.
Be not afraid
We have a choice to make, and it may be difficult: Do we keep Jesus locked up inside the Church, or do we go out and bring Christ to those who we encounter? While sitting here reading this post the choice may be simple, why don’t you get up and do it? Afraid? Yep, me too, but so were the Apostles, the martyrs, the missionaries. They all had one thing in common – and so do you – the Holy Spirit. Don’t be afraid to live your faith and the Spirit will be bold in you.
Become a missionary at home
If you’ve ever gone on a missionary trip, you will find out there is sometimes very little training. They may give you background of the region, tell you the agenda, then when you arrive, you notice there isn’t as much preaching and teaching, but playing and crafts with kids, singing and dancing, maybe fixing a house or plumbing. This is living the Gospel. Sharing your faith through God’s love. This is the simplest way to be a missionary right where you live, just by helping, volunteering, through kindness and generosity.
Create a mission group
Auth tells us the steps of how his pastor and a group of people created their own mission right in the middle of New York City. At first, they didn’t really know what they were doing, but as they grew stronger in faith and in the Holy Spirit, they were able to talk to people confidently and bring them into the Church for confessions! Anyone can do this too, just talk with your pastor. If he’s not open to the idea, go visit other Catholic Churches in your area, or talk with your Bishop. Gather a small group of friends or members from Church – talk with the pro-life missionaries. They’ve also been doing sidewalk missions for a long time and have the drill down on how to engage with people from all walks of life.
Start with a question and a gift
The common theme as Auth tells of his stories is the opening line, “Are you Catholic?” and offers them a rosary. Others may have a pad of paper and pencils for people to write prayer intentions. They even used a gimmick of a life-sized cut-out of the Pope (we also have one at our Church!). Whatever it takes to get the other person talking is all that is needed to open the door to a great encounter.
Can you really do this?
Well, God calls us all to be missionaries. So YES. Father doesn’t say, “go out and preach the Gospel, except for you Johnny, you can’t do it.” You don’t need to have all the answers, or even very many of them, just some of the basics: Where the nearest Church is, what are the Mass times, when are the confession times, and maybe the basic message of the Gospel. Before we do go out, we must first pray and be willing to share our experience with Christ. We need to be able to meet people where they are at and be willing to help them along with their faith journey. It may be your encounter which brings someone back into the Church. We may encounter hate, be sworn at, or spat on and insulted, much the same as Jesus. The most important part of the mission is you. Only you can share your experiences, and this is what someone is longing to hear.
Stephen F. Auth writes a great story his experiences with being a The Missionary of Wall Street. He writes about what it takes to become a missionary in your own hometown, but also stories of his encounters with some very interesting people who strayed away from the Church and the stories of the encounters of others on their missions. Many are funny, some are sad, all are interesting of how the ‘target’ either surprised them, or how they surprised the target by bringing Christ outside of the Church building. It shows us that if people in a city like New York City are open to seeking Christ, we too can bring others who might have distanced themselves from Jesus that little bit of encouragement to come home to the Catholic Church.