Evangelizing Over the Holidays
Thanksgiving and Christmas are a time when so many of us are with family members whom we don’t see often. This might be less prevalent in the Covid Era, but it will be true nonetheless.
And even if you are a priest or work in a parish, you’ll find yourself with people who don’t know Jesus, or haven’t been engaged in their faith lives in many years. And the question is, how do we evangelize during the short time we have with people?
There is a single question that may be the most powerful of all, one that can simultaneously melt someone’s heart and open them to the power of Jesus. “Is there something going on in your life that I can pray for?” That’s it!
Now, it doesn’t work all the time. Some people will politely say ‘no, thanks’, but it won’t be terribly painful. Many people, perhaps even most of them, will say “actually, my sister is sick,” or “my husband is out of work” or even “I’m struggling with my faith”.
If that’s the case, you can use your judgment about what to do next. You might say, “I will keep her in my prayers tonight.” Don’t be surprised if they get a bit emotional. Or you might decide to say “tell me about him,” and listen attentively before promising to pray for him that night. Or you might, if you feel moved to do so and you feel it is appropriate, ask if you could pray with them right there. “Would you like to pray together about this?”
The point here is that this is perhaps the simplest and most effective way to show Jesus to someone who needs Him. And of course, prayer is real, and God can do the rest of the work in bringing this person closer to Him.
Now, there is another question you can ask that relative or friend, if he or she seems open. And it may be more powerful than the first. “Would you pray for me?” Of course, you have to be sincere in wanting that prayer, and it has to be something real, something you’re opening yourself up to them about. But it can melt their heart to know that you are inviting them to go to God for you.
If none of that works, I suggest that you draw pictures of famous saints in the mashed potatoes and ask them if they know who they are. Start with Saint Nicholas maybe.
Pat Lencioni | Co-founder
The Amazing Parish