Our Simple Mission

With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:31-32)

The Emmaus story is one of my favorite passages from the Gospels and I believe it is one of the more important stories. As with many other passages we can sometimes react to them from an emotive perspective – making our understanding of the passage more about feelings than hearing the lesson that is being presented to us or the challenge that is laid before us to embrace in our lives.

I have often used the Emmaus story to help to teach about the Mass. However, it is also a perfect example of how to live out Jesus’ call for us to “go and make disciples of all nations.(see Matthew 28)” And Jesus, Himself, shows us how to do what He asks of us.

Here is, in simple terms, what he asks of us, in order to share His Good News:

Encounter Others

The first lesson is remembering that this is about encountering people one or two people at a time. Jesus, unrecognized by the disciples, simply begins to walk with them. This is vital in how we are to approach evangelization. Typically we want to wait for people to approach us – to come to the church – to express their interest in becoming Catholic or wanting to go deeper. But this is not reality. It is our responsibility to, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, join people’s journeys, especially when they are walking in the wrong direction (heard a great point about this during the homily I heard at Mass – the two disciples were walking in the wrong direction, away from Jerusalem, when Jesus joined them). Evangelization requires intentionality – requires a cost – requires us to go out.

Listen

The second lesson is that it is important to listen to the stories of those we do encounter. We have a great story to share with them but in order for us to effectively do so we need to know what their journey has been like. I love how Jesus asks them “What are you talking about?” when he begins to walk with them. They are incredulous at this question – how could you not know what has happened in Jerusalem?!? And, yet, Jesus patiently asks again, “What things?” When you are blessed to have the opportunity to walk with someone you need to love them enough to hear from them before they hear from you.

Share the Good News

The third lesson is be prepared to share the Good News – our story of faith – with them. The emphasis is be prepared! Do you know our story? Do you know the basic Gospel message (kerygma) and are you prepared to share it effectively? Are you capable of offering apologetics (defense) regarding the Church’s teachings in a charitable, yet convincing manner? If not, then you, as a baptized Catholic – as a disciple – have the responsibility to study the faith so that you are ready to teach effectively. Jesus did not hesitate to challenge these two disciples (both of them should have known better after following Him for years…”Oh, how foolish you are!”), but took the time to reteach them all they had already heard through the lens of the victory of Easter. Each person we encounter will have different needs in regards to learning about the faith so be careful to avoid a one size fits all model.

Use Humor

This is a small lesson from the story that I believe often goes unnoticed. “As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther.” Jesus obviously knew that His teaching, especially in light of His Resurrection, was giving them hope and new life (He is God after all!) and that they would want to spend more time with Him. Yet He makes believe that He is going to keep moving along and they quickly move to invite Him to stay with them (of course as typical men they could not admit the real reason why they wanted Him to stay with them – our hearts our burning within us so please stay with us. Instead they say it is getting dark out – we would hate to see you get hurt or something. Am I the only one who sees this as funny?). Jesus is playing with them and that is a great lesson. We need to be sure not to take ourselves too seriously. Use humor.

The Eucharist

Simple enough – bring people to Jesus’ Real Presence. Just as we, ourselves, need to be anchored in the Eucharist so to do the folks we are walking with need the opportunity to encounter Him at Mass, in Adoration, before the Tabernacle. For every Catholic true conversion will ultimately come about through sacramental grace and especially through falling in love with the Eucharistic Lord. So let Jesus, Himself, do what He promised to do – to be with us always! Invite those you are discipling to join you in attending Mass or spending a few minutes in Adoration. Teach them about this amazing and mysterious gift!

Evangelization, for many, is seen as a daunting task and in many ways it certainly is during these interesting days in our world. However, it is the Church’s mission – it is our mission. And we have a responsibility to answer the call. This is not optional for one who claims to be a disciple of Christ. As always, Christ does not leave us without an answer as to how we can do so. And for all the talks, trainings, books, blogs, etc on the issue of evangelization, it is simpler then we might think – it has been happening for over two thousand years with people from all walks of life. In simple terms: Encounter others; Listen to them; Share the Good News; Use humor; Bring them to Jesus in the Eucharist.

During this beautiful season of Easter I pray that all of us may recommit ourselves to the life-giving work of evangelization – to walking with others and helping them to fall in love with the Savior of the world.

Michael Lavigne

By

Michael Lavigne currently serves as the Director of the Office for Lifelong Faith Formation and Parish Support in the Archdiocese of Boston. Previously he served as the director for the Diocese of Portland Office of Lifelong Faith Formation. For the past twenty-one years he has served in the Catholic Church as a retreat coordinator, coordinator of youth ministry and religious education, diocesan leadership team moderator, coach, high school theology teacher and department chair and confirmation coordinator. Michael has earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and communications from Rhode Island College, as well as a Master of Arts degree in theology from Providence College. Michael is married to Lori and they are the blessed parents of Michael Jr., Mariana, John Paul, Therese, Julia and Chiara. The Lavigne’s reside in Taunton, MA. Michael and Lori write regularly at their blog: www.throughthecatholiclens.com.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • BillinJax

    Michael, thank you so much for this message.
    I also meet Jesus along the way back as a child
    after my mother died and my Catholic playmates invited me to attend mass with
    them. The beauty of the altar, the statues, the vestments, the singing of
    praises all combined to entice me to want to become a part of it. However, I
    had to wait another 15 years for the opportunity as my very religious but
    anti-Catholic aunt “rescued” from such a fate and attempted to raise
    me in a different direction. By grace, and that was my mothers name, though I
    did have the benefit of much preaching of the scripture and traditional hymns
    there was an emptiness of true worship. The spiritual visibility those
    disciples gained at the breaking of the bread only came when as a young man of
    twenty I returned to the home of the Eucharist and volunteered to join the
    faithful and follow my spiritual mother to the risen Christ at the communion
    rail. Praise and thank God and the prayers of the faithful for I soon met the
    love of my life, a truly angelic Catholic girl, who has blessed me and our four
    children for over sixty years now. In thanksgiving I have offered many memories
    of my journey and the wisdom of the scripture with the words they have inspired
    me to convey to fellow travelers. Here is a portion of one on “Our Mission in
    Life”
    As Christians, we must thoroughly convince ourselves that, as Christ
    revealed to us, “our kingdom is not of this world”. Life here is an audition
    for what is to come. We have chosen our character, an imitation of Christ, and
    desire to live in eternity with Him through a grateful performance of service
    to him here according to the “biblical script” we have been given.

    However, when we look at history and see how this world treated Jesus (as
    in The Passion Christ) can we then really expect anything better? We can be
    assured many will want us to be handed over, ridiculed, and persecuted for our
    imitation of Him as it is not acceptable here. The evil one, the Deceiver, is
    still at large at this time and will not tolerate allegiance to the Creator’s
    rules or His Son’s teachings. The rule of Satan here is to be content with the
    way things are because this is it, this is all there is to it, make the most of
    it however you can, no restraints to your human desires, be all you can be, do
    unto yourself and others as it pleases you to do. Don’t deny yourself; deny
    God, deny eternal love, deny the cross, deny eternity. And many are those who
    have chosen to do just that. Many are called, few are chosen. Christ admonishes us to “Be ye perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Without Him we are nothing but we
    believe that with Him all things are possible.

    One thing we must remember is this; we are in a battle for the souls of men
    whom God desires to be returned to Him. We are at war! There is no retreating
    or deserting. We are guaranteed victory but not without casualties. Our only
    weapon is His eternal Truth and every sacrifice or wound is in honor of it.
    Maintaining its power and might within us requires consistent prayer,
    meditation, and devotion to our duty and His just cause. Be sworn to do all
    that will be asked of you for we can also be assured that our leadership can
    not fail and our reward will not be taken from us.

    Standing for Christ is standing by Him. Standing by Him is standing by His
    Word. He said “he who is not with me is against me” and again “the spirit is
    willing but the flesh is weak”. Our strength must be in Him for we are but
    human and the enemy, the deceiver, is very strong, like a wild beast set to
    devour his prey. However, Jesus rebuked Satan three times with but the “Word”
    alone and sent him on his way. Gods Word is truth. It is our eternal weapon and
    our shield never to be forsaken, never to be overcome.

    Lord, we pray that you will give us wisdom to know you, a heart to love
    you, and the will to serve you for we have put our trust in you and your word,
    our lives are now in your almighty hands.

MENU