If you ever get the opportunity to have a meal or a drink at The Mayflower in Lymington I would certainly recommend it. I was there yesterday and the food was delicious, the atmosphere of the place and, of course, the company, was very congenial. The Wi-Fi must have been great too. From where I was sitting I could see a young couple having a meal together and hardly exchanging a word. They were both avidly tip-tip-tapping on the keyboards of their mobile phones, chitter-chattering with someone who wasn’t actually in front of them. I hardly leave the Priory, but every time I do I notice how face-to-face communication is becoming less common, especially among the young. Some people must spend every waking hour e-mailing, texting, and talking on the phone. Social networks, too many now to mention, keep us in touch without ever meeting those people we communicate with. More and more people even work from the comfort, and the isolation, of home, and rarely have the chance to interact with other people outside their immediate families. Even online shopping can keep us away from merchants and traders who may be just around the corner from us. All this technology certainly does make life more convenient. But how different it is to the experience of the two brothers Andrew and Simon Peter.
While they are fishing, the two brothers meet Jesus in person. But this isn’t the first time they had seen him. John the Baptist had introduced Andrew to Jesus earlier, and Andrew ended up spending an entire day with him. Andrew then brought his brother to meet Jesus too. That encounter set the stage for today’s Gospel, when Our Lord calls the two brothers to follow him. And they are so moved and impressed by Jesus that they immediately leave everything behind and go with him.
Today’s feast reminds us that this kind of direct encounter is at the heart of evangelization. Pope Saint John Paul II wrote that evangelization “is not a matter of merely passing on doctrine, but rather of a personal and profound meeting with the Saviour.” The days of telling someone to read the Catechism and come back in 3 months to be Confirmed have well and truly gone. We can’t simply hope that those around us will absorb enough information about Christ to become his disciples. We need to personally introduce them to Jesus.
Bringing someone to Christ is not that challenging. Of course, we can pray for people and we can tell them about God’s love, and perhaps suggest they read a few CTS publications. But sometimes we make more progress with simple, practical expressions of love that are reflections of God’s love. Listening can be just as effective as prayer. An invitation to lunch and a chat can have a greater impact than a PowerPoint presentation of the truths of the Gospel.
Kindness, generosity, compassion—these are the keys that unlock the treasures of the Gospel.
Saint Andrew, pray for us.