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 that it is scarcely considered a Catholic thing to do. 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 value in speaking of God’s love in visits to households, the new evangelization as proclaimed by recent popes is more about intimating that love by example.
In our postmodern culture everybody is said to be free to believe what she or he finds meaningful. This implies toleration of different belief systems. In this way our society avoids conflict without absolutizing any doctrine about which there is no general agreement. However, by itself toleration hardly says anything about divine revelation 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.