God wants everyone to know what a good God he is

Every summer I try to get away for a two-week vacation. Some priests in South Dakota have a cabin they allow me to use in the heart of the Black Hills. I take along a stack of books for some serious reading (something I generally don’t have the energy for while I am in the parish). I try to make it a time for ongoing education and spiritual renewal. Oh, I do get some good golfing in and lots of naps as well so it’s not just work, but the reading is something I really enjoy as well.

This year the books I took to read focused on the “New Evangelization,” first proposed by Pope John Paul II. The theme was followed up on by Pope Benedict and the same with Pope Francis. This new evangelization refers to a renewed effort to share the “Good News” with people. We live in a world predominated by materialism and secularism. This means people try to find meaning for their lives from accumulation of money and material things and God is left out of the picture.

Years ago when I grew up I don’t remember anyone in my home town that did not belong to a church. I am sure some did not attend church regularly but everyone belonged somewhere. Atheism was only something we read about. This is not so today. Many people try to get by without God. It is not that they haven’t heard of God but the Gospel message was just never presented in an appealing way or they never really understood who Jesus is.

This “New Evangelization” is a call for the baptized to reach out to others with the joy that comes from being a believer and follower of Jesus and invite someone to experience what we have. The love, mercy and compassion of God for us is the greatest news but people can’t celebrate it until they experience it.

The Lord wants everyone to have his/her own encounter with him. He invites us to meet him personally but usually God uses a believer to lead another person to Jesus similar to what the apostle Andrew did for his brother Peter in the Gospel.

Pope Francis encourages priests to not keep themselves locked up in their offices but to be out with the people. Lay people are also to be bearers of the “good news” to people at their workplaces and anywhere they happen to be. Many people get caught up in various addictions as they seek what only God can provide. The peace and joy of knowing that we are God’s beloved children is meant for everyone.

Now you have my two weeks of study in a nutshell.

Knowing the Lord is great but our challenge is to share this “good news.” God will help us if we ask because I am convinced he wants everyone to know what a good God he is. And this is what “love” demands of us.