Paul Moore: “So, who did you bring with you?” — an evangelization challenge
In My Father’s House / Paul Thomas Moore
We were visiting with my wife’s family recently, and the conversation drifted to what God might say when he greets us at the Gate of Heaven. Her brother Jeff offered his opinion that it wouldn’t be so much a scorecard of how we fared against the 10 Commandments — that we’ve all been on the wrong side of God’s laws and will have to settle our accounts — but after that discussion is out of the way, the Lord will say:
“And now for the big question: Who did you bring with you?”
If God has gifted us with loving, faithful parents, freedom from extreme want, inborn abilities to make our way in the world, perhaps the bonus blessing of a Catholic education . . . and we show up at Heaven’s door requesting admittance for one, it may not go well.
Our role as Catholics is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, our soul, and our mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If our personal goal is to live with God forever in Heaven, then to love our neighbors as ourselves means to do whatever we can to help them access the same retirement plan.
Jeff pointed out the connection with Jesus’ parable of the talents. The man going on a journey entrusted his servants with his possessions — or “talents.” The servant who had been given five talents traded them to make five more for his master, and the servant who had been given two talents made two more. But the servant who had been given one talent buried it and had only that to give back to his master, who was not impressed, “You wicked, lazy servant!” (Matthew 25:26)
We are like those servants. The more of a deposit of faith he has left with us, the more he hopes to reap upon his return. If he has gifted us with loving, faithful parents, freedom from extreme want, inborn abilities to make our way in the world, perhaps the bonus blessing of a Catholic education . . . and we show up at Heaven’s door requesting admittance for one, it may not go well.
SHOWING OTHERS THE WAY . . .
Since Jeff gave me this idea, it’s only fair that I use him as an example of the other kind of servant. He’d kill me for writing this, but hey, you only live once (on this side of Heaven, that is).
Jeff’s a contractor. He’s honest, works cheap, and does great work — so he has more of it than he can handle. He used to have an employee. One day the man came to him, looking lost, and said he had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and had only a short time left. Jeff asked if he could pray the rosary with him. The man was willing, but wasn’t sure he remembered how. They prayed.
Later on, Jeff suggested and then arranged for the guy to see a priest, and afterward the man admitted it had been his first confession in 42 years. One day not long after, Jeff sat at his bedside as they prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy together. A short time later, the man died.
This story illustrates not only how to show someone the way, but taking a step beyond that — if the person is willing — how to take their spiritual arm and personally lead them to the door of Eternal Life.
. . . AND ACCOMPANYING THEM
On Memorial Day at Jeff and his wife Rita’s in Ohio, we witnessed another example of the fruits of evangelization — this time within the family. At lunchtime, the families of their four children assembled among chips, cheesecake, brats and burgers. Jeff said, “Let’s pray.” Every little mouth there, aged 3 to 13, knew the grace-filled words.
Jeff has also led and accompanied his sons and other family to retreats, and was a proud follower when his daughter Emily led him on a service mission to Mississippi after the floods there a few years ago. He has driven seminarians and others on mission service trips to Wyoming and California.
Jeff would be the first to say that his equal partner in faith and family evangelization is his wife Rita, for whom there is always room for one more at the table, and who helps to extend the hospitality of the Lord’s table by distributing Communion to the sick and homebound.
The style of outreach exhibited by Jeff and Rita — and people like them — illustrate that it’s one thing to give people directions to the good, and another entirely to accompany them on the journey. For people like these, I expect the Lord will need to reserve a large table at the Heavenly banquet to accommodate all their guests.
PAUL THOMAS MOORE is a Catholic communicator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Mary Louise attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org