Sharing the Gift, Online Gaming: 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Sharing the Gift, Online Gaming
Today’s gospel is about sharing the gift of our faith. How can WE do that? Do you remember last November our bishop sent us all a very important letter called Sharing the Gift, about sharing the gift of our faith with other people?
We have talked a lot about how you can share the gift of your faith using what we call three conversations. The first conversation is prayer. Most people like it when you pray with them. We encourage you not just to tell people you will pray for them. Pray WITH them, right then and there. It is a powerful experience. That is the first conversation. The second conversation you can have is to tell people how it has been important to you in your life to have a relationship with God, how you feel God is close to you and you are close to God. The third conversation is to explain to people how your life is a service to God. What do you do in your life that serves the Lord?
Those are three ways you can share your faith. Let’s talk about WHERE you can share your faith. God sends us wherever people can be found. In Jesus’ day, people would gather in marketplaces and in town squares. So, that is where he sent his disciples to share the gift of faith. Today is very different. Technology, such as the internet, provides us with other ways to reach people.
For example, Johnathan Blevins uses his talent and technical skill to reach out to young people with the love of Jesus Christ. He does so in a way that might seem unusual. He uses his skill at playing video games to first get young people’s attention and then speak to them about his Catholic faith.
Anyone can play video games on their computer. Not only that, from your computer, you can watch other people play video games. In some ways, it’s like watching a baseball or football game. Even if you like to play the game yourself, it can be entertaining to watch highly skilled players compete.
Johnathan is skillful enough that people tune into his online channel called “Bearded Blevins” to watch him compete against other players. He uses it as an opportunity to model good sportsmanship to young people and share his faith. At the end of the game, he offers to pray for those who have tuned in to watch him.
When asked about how he gets young people to open up to him, he said: “We aren’t hosting teaching sessions and lecturing people. Faith comes up naturally after viewers have already begun to trust us because we are friendly and loving. Then when they inevitably ask questions about faith or life in general, they are very open to whatever we have to say. The number one comment we get from people is ‘wow, I have never heard someone share faith in such a loving non-confrontational way.”
Johnathan teaches us that no matter what our talents may be, we can use them to share the gift of our faith. And anywhere we go as Christians can be a place where we share one or all three of those three conversations.
Think about all the places you go. School, your office, the dry-cleaner, the grocery store. How many people do you encounter? Any of those encounters can be an opportunity to share one of those three conversations which over time can lead to a deeper sharing of faith.
Offering to pray WITH someone is very powerful. You will be amazed, if you have never done that, how much people appreciate it and are moved by it.
If you still feel shy about the idea of sharing your faith, here are a few takeaways from today’s gospel that will help you.
The first thing is: Be your best. Let God do the rest. Jesus sends the disciples ahead of him to places he intends to visit. They are preparing the way for him. They will teach some, but Jesus will come to seal the deal. That’s important for us to remember. We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to convince anyone. We simply tell people about our faith and let God do the rest. We trust the Holy Spirit will eventually visit them with his grace. Be your best. Let God do the rest.
Secondly, Jesus tells us to pray that the Father will send workers into his vineyard. Don’t forget –you are one of the workers God is sending. Ask God to give you courage and to help you share the gift. Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of those you meet, to the gift of God’s love.
Thirdly, Jesus urges us to keep it simple. He tells his disciples not to take too many things along with them but to trust God will provide them with what they need. We see an example of this in Johnathan’s story. He didn’t put together an elaborate program to evangelize young people. He simply started with something that came naturally to him – video gaming – and used it as an opportunity to pray and share his faith. The same can be true for us
If you have a talent for coaching, you can simply use it to be an example to young people of good sportsmanship and the importance of discipline. If you are a naturally friendly person, you can invite people to events at the parish, especially our small groups, and introduce them to other parishioners to give them a sense of belonging. God can use any of our talents and abilities to draw other people to him.
Finally, Jesus talks about the importance of hospitality. He urges his disciples to graciously accept the hospitality of those whom they encounter along the way. In the same way, he is inviting us to offer hospitality to people in our homes and in this parish. There are so many lonely people, young and old, who could use a place to go when they are feeling sad. There are so many young people who would benefit from knowing a stable family. Are our homes places where we welcome people? Is our parish a place where people get a sense of belonging and community? If not, what can we do to change that?
If we have been touched by Jesus Christ – if we have come to know him and his love for us – it will show in the way we speak and the way we act. If the love of Jesus is alive in our hearts, we will want to share it with others. It does not have to be complicated. It is simply a matter of befriending others and using our three conversations. Then we can trust that Jesus will take care of the rest.
Do your best. Share the Gift of your faith. Let God do the rest.