Evangelization and Popularity

by Melanie on October 1, 2017

in Blessed Are You, Catholicism, Cursillo, Martyrs, Nonfiction, Saints, Saints of the Americas, Spirituality, Your Daily Tripod

Note: On Tuesdays and some Sundays, you can find me at Your Daily Tripod, owned by my friend TonyD. A longer version of the post below appears there.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.  For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.” (Matthew 21:31-32, NRSVCE)

So really, can you blame the chief priests and elders? They were learned. They were leaders. Why in the world would they have listened to John the Baptist, that wildly popular evangelist who looked like a wild man and called them out for hypocrisy? If anything, those ragtag sinners who followed him were more proof that his way of righteousness was, well, less than righteous.

John didn’t care. He was on fire. He kept preaching, kept answering the Lord’s call even as his purpose became clearer and clearer to him. He paid with his earthly life for being God’s messenger.

It’s hard to evangelize and watch people turn against us and ridicule us. What we can learn from John is not to care. Consider the example of Servant of God Dorothy Day, imprisoned for civil disobedience seven times. Consider the example of St. Oscar Romero, gunned down outside a chapel for his call for the respect of human rights. Consider the example of a family member or friend who won’t be quiet about issues such as abortion, capital punishment, and immigration.

People like them—and John and Dorothy and Oscar—can be annoying. We belittle them and their followers. We denigrate them and their followers. We look for reasons to discredit them rather than listen to their message and discern. And when we do so, we set ourselves up for the same \type of comeuppance those smug leaders of Jesus’ time received. May we focus ourselves on obedience to the Lord, not on the siren song of earthly popularity.

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