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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Evangelization is like the movie Invictus...

[The following post was written three Saturdays ago]

We're never at 100%.
Recently I watched the movie “Invictus.”  I’m inspired by a simple dialogue between Morgan Freeman’s
character Nelson Mandela who asks the captain of the Rugby team (Matt Damon’s character) if one of the players will be back to 100% from his injury.
                Damon kind of smiles back at Mandela and says, “Sir, in rugby, you’re never at 100%”

                This morning I went to men’s group at St. Andrew’s (we’re basically a bunch of misfits ages 23-83) and we talked about a topic we often discuss: evangelization.  And often when we talk about this, I always feel this sense of hesitancy.  I can tell the guys in the room are thinking what I sometimes think, “Well, when I’m good and ready myself, THEN, I will bring others.  Only then will it be right.”
                It brings me back to the Damon’s quote, “Sir, in rugby, you’re never at 100%” except I want to insert other words: fellas, in faith and Christianity and Catholicism, we’re never going to be at 100%.  We’re never going to have it all together.  If we wait for that to happen, we’ll never bring anyone back to the church. 

We’re stronger together

                In the middle of conversation, my man Rich mentioned how conversion has to begin with ourselves.  I completely agree with him, and I believe we’re not called to do this by ourselves.  Evangelization is not getting ourselves strong to the point where we can then help and be strong for others.  Evangelization is working out our faith together with others.
                For anyone who goes to the gym, what has been a better experience---working out alone, or working out with someone else?  What even got me back to the gym recently was one of my boys Chris asking me to do this program with him.  And there were many times I didn’t want to get up after work to work out for myself, but because he was counting on me being there, I got out for him.  I am convinced that we men are more motivated to do something for others than doing something for ourselves.  And Chris got me to the gym one, two, three times a week and we started with the small weights, feeling stupid in front of the other guys, but that’s OK because we were doing it together.  And week by week, we got stronger and we caught up with the other guys.  Now, my bicep may not ever be as big as the guy lifting the same 30-pound weight (which at times can be frustrating), but I’m OK with the growth I’ve seen in my own personal strength.
                This analogy works with our faith.  We are all working on it.  Instead of trying to work on it by ourselves, let’s bring others with us.  It’s about walking together.  I recently got into a conversation with a fellow St. Andrew’s men’s grouper, and after our conversation I had a good book recommendation that I had heard about.  Though, instead of leaving it at, “You should read this book” and that’s it, I told him, “Hey, let’s read it together because I need accountability to continue reading at a good pace” which was completely true and genuine.  Now he gets to work out with me, and I have a work out partner in this book I’m reading called Point Man which is about how men can lead in our family.  It’s missing some Catholic perspectives, but overall good so far.
                Senior year of college my roommate Anthony and I didn’t have morning classes on Monday, Wednesdays, or Friday.  We decided that we’d take advantage of these mornings---but we needed each other.  At frickin’ 7:00 a.m. in the morning he’d get me up to go to daily Mass which I often did not want to get up to. “I don’t wanna!” I’d often yell from beneath my covers.  But he dragged my butt off of bed.  In return, I got him back because after Mass, I’d force him to go to the gym with me, which he hated.  To finished it off we go breakfast together.  And for three days a week for a whole semester we got stronger in our faith with Mass, stronger in our muscles with the gym, and stronger in our friendship sharing breakfast together. 
"Evangelization is not getting ourselves strong to the point where we can then help and be strong for others.  Evangelization is working out our faith together with others."

                Fr. Bob back at CUA gave a great homily that still sticks to me to this day.  He said that when (or actually if, as he called us all pagans) we get to heaven, St. Peter will not only judge us on our lives, but also judge on whether we brought anyone with us to heaven.  At the end of our times, if we only bring ourselves, we failed.  We have to bring our wives, our children, our family, our friends and our fellow brothers.  And we can’t wait until we’re strong enough.  We’ll never be at 100%.  We get stronger together. 

We're in this together.


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