Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 44:18-21.23b-29.45:1-5; Matthew 10:7-15)
The women just completed an adult religious education program. She expressed her confidence about what she had learned by saying, “The next time Jehovah Witnesses came to my door, they should be prepared to sit down and talk for an hour.”
Door-to door canvassing is so associated with Jehovah Witnesses and evangelical sects that it is scarcely considered a Catholic apostolate. Yet Jesus in today’s gospel seems to tell his apostles to do just that. “As you enter a house,” he says, “wish it peace.” But contemporary intuition, in this case at least, is not wrong. Jesus is prescribing a manner for the missionary to find a place of lodging, not a way to evangelize. Although there may be some value in visiting households to spread the “good news,” the “new evangelization” as proclaimed by recent popes more involves intimating the love of God by word and example.
We should recognize the appeal in contemporary ideals of everybody choosing to believe what she or he finds meaningful for himself or herself. Extended a bit, this line of thinking demands universal adherence to laws to protect individuals, but its aim is to safeguard liberty as far as possible. Such principles seem to avoid conflict while not making absolute any doctrine about which general agreement does not exist. However, they also ignore divine revelation which comes especially in Jesus Christ. It would be contradictory to force belief in Christ, but, as the popes suggest, we should not content ourselves merely with allowing each individual to believe whatever he or she likes. Rather, we are to impress upon others the superiority of Catholic Christianity by the quality and tenor of our lives.