Some years ago, I was bringing someone out to a birthday party in town Boston, and we were driving around looking for a parking space. The birthday party was in a bar where there are metered spots on the street. There are also parking garages around, too. So, we passed the front of the bar the first time, and there was nothing there. We went around the block and passed by a parking garage. My impatient passenger said, “Let’s just put it in the garage.” “You gotta have a little faith, man!” I said. We drove back around the front of the bar again, and this time, there was an open free parking spot right in front of the entrance. I smiled and said, “See? God provides.” He said, “If God provides, He’ll give me a wife tonight.”
About 10 minutes later he was sitting next to the birthday girl. Now 10 years later, they are married and have two daughters together.
God gave him what he really wanted. That is what I call, Good News. I was the messenger. That is Evangelizing. Why? Because evanglize means bring the Good News. Evangelizing isn’t bringing teachings or ideas to people. It’s being the messenger as God is about to give them what they really want.
What did the paryltic man really want as he sat by the pool of healing waters and could never make it in after 37 years? He wanted to be healed. And that’s what happened. The woman whose son had died? She wanted her son alive, and that’s what happened. The blind Bartimaeus? He wanted his vision, and that’s what happened. The list of healings goes on and on, because that is what the people wanted, that was the Good News they were looking for. They were not looking for prayers or prayer cards, nice kind words, religious doctrines or practices or the need for “Jesus” or to be saved. They were not looking for explanations about how to suffer or why they were suffering and how good God is, they were not looking to be converted to a religion. None of that is Good News to them. No, they had real-life problems that weighed them down. That is the Good News: that God solves our real-life problems, because He is really with us.
A while ago I saw a video by a famous bishop about evangelizing. His points were that, to be a good evangelizer, you need to have the proverbial “relationship with Jesus” and know a lot about the Catholic Church and its history and structures and teachings. When I listened to it, I thought about myself 15 years ago, a 30 year old guy living life like anyone else, without prayer or religion or spiritual stuff, and I thought: none of that would be Good News to me. How would any of that help me with find a wife, start a family, get out of my addictions? In fact, it was just the reverse: it seemed like just another burden and obligation, an extra thing to learn or do.
In January, I will be going to a small community of indigenous people here in Ecuador. A large group of their family members have immigrated to Massachusetts and I’ve become friends with them. They’ve decided that they want to send support as a community in Massachusetts to their home community in the mountains of Ecuador, for the first time. They will send Christmas gifts for the kids and seniors, and hope to grow into other things later on. I will bring videos and photos and messages from the Massachusetts, and will bring back their own messages from Ecuador. The one thing that the people want on both sides of the border is to feel the presence of the others that they miss so much. What they really, really want is to feel that their loved ones, and God, are really with them.
That’s the Good News!
And I am the messenger.
If you want to evangelize, you can take up the way laid out by famous bishops, heavy books, and big church programs. My guess is that you won’t get very far with people. Or, if you *really* want to evangelize, you can go the way that Jesus shows. God truly is giving people what they really want, He really is with them.
And you are the messenger.
That is Good News!
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Lk 4:18-19)