Writing to the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, His Excellency the Most Reverend Leo Cushley recently pointed out that
before we can offer [Jesus'] saving message to others we must first know, embrace and love what we are to witness. The evangelisation of my family, community and country begins within my heart or it will not really begin at all.
He writes these words in his pastoral letter, "We Have Found the Messiah: The Future of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh" in which he addresses the future restructuring of the Archdiocese.
As much as Catholics - even "practicing" Catholics - do not want to hear it, the Archbishop is correct. Why have so many of our parishes in western nations dwindled over the past many decades (it is certainly not a difficulty known only in Scotland)? The answer, I think, is principally twofold:
- Too many Catholics have not maintained a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ and lived according to the requirements of his friendship, and
- Too many Catholics have not invited others (which is a requirement of his friendship) to encounter Jesus Christ.
Everyone is called to evangelize. Everyone is called to share the Good News of Christ's victory over sin and death. Everyone is called, like Saint Andrew, to say to others, "We have found the Messiah" and bring them to Jesus (John 1:41). Everyone is called to announce to the world, "He is risen from the dead!"
Saint Mary of Magdala was the first human to step foot inside the Lord's empty tomb after his resurrection (cf. Mark 16:5). She it was who brought the announcement of the Resurrection to the Apostles (cf. Mark 16:11). Her announcement of the Gospel, however, did not stop with her announcement to the Apostles, but - according to one tradition - brought her and Martha and Lazarus to France to evangelize the area of Provence.
A relic of her foot is preserved in Rome in the church of San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini, not far from the Basilica of St. Peter:
The relic of her foot serves as a reminder that we, too, must run with joy to everyone we know and to everyone we meet, announcing to them, in the words of the Easter Sequence, "Yes, Christ my hope is arisen!"
Where would the Church be had Mary Magdalene chosen not to bring the Good News to the Apostles and to others? Where will the Church be if I choose not to announce the Good News to others? Where will the Church be if you choose to announce the Good News to others?