The ingenuity of the enemy in redirecting our efforts at spiritual growth is legion. That is why healing in the spiritual life is so important. For the Disciple of Jesus, who is called to reach out to others no matter the nature of the wounds apparent in the life of a person, the Disciple must first of all focus on assisting that person to heal the wounds. As Pope Francis has said “You have to start from the ground up”. We see this approach of course in the public life of Jesus in His attention to Tax Collectors, Prostitutes and the like.
First though, before the Disciple reaches out to others, he or she must get their own spiritual house in order. We need to ask ourselves whether the enemy has been redirecting us in the hope of blunting or otherwise derailing our efforts at evangelization. Much of this has to do with our willingness to roll up our sleeves and take on the responsibility of a Disciple. We may treasure our privacy or our time or we may be, perhaps unwittingly, too attached to our comforts to truly share in the real work that embracing the cross entails. In emulating Jesus we must immerse ourselves in His humanity and that means putting the social aspects of the Gospel front and center. We need to absorb the risks inherent in face to face encounters with others knowing that the Holy Spirit is directing our activities and providing us with the grace we need to be true ambassadors of our Christian faith and dedicated emissaries of Jesus.
When we are successful, with God’s grace, in thwarting the efforts of the enemy, we can direct our energies to helping those who have lost their way knowing of course that the enemy, like a pugnacious little dog, will be continually yelping at our heels in an effort to distract us. God’s grace however will enable us to focus not on the annoying little dog but on the work of Discipleship that we might bring God’s healing and liberating love to those in spiritual distress. We are the “Church” and those in spiritual need must find in us a spirituality that offers this type of healing and peace. If they don’t find this type of spiritual communion they will look elsewhere and that is exactly what the enemy has in mind.
Pope Francis has strongly emphasized the importance of popular religiosity that arises out of true Christian faith that is co-existent in popular culture because this manifestation of faith entails a personal relationship and is not attached to some vague personal energy or power but rather with God, with Christ, and with Mary and the saints. As Pope Francis has said, “these devotions are fleshy. They have a face. They are capable of fostering relationships and not just enabling escapism. In many parts of society, we see the growing attraction of some to various forms of a spirituality of well being divorced from any community life, or to a theology of prosperity detached from responsibility for our brothers and sisters, or to depersonalized experiences which are nothing more than a form of self- centeredness”.
If you are involved in Evangelization and we all should be according to our gifts and station in life, we are called to keep our own spiritual houses dusted and clean. Our responsibility is to do our part in bringing others to Jesus and to accept others where they are in the spiritual journey and to help to tend their wounds. The cross then becomes a joy to embrace and not something to be feared.