This past week I had the opportunity to attend a work shop on Christian Initiation. It was a wonderful experience and the perfect balance of instruction and discussion, practical and conceptual, worship and contemplation. Although the primary topic of the seminar was the reception of previously baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Roman Catholic Church, all aspects of Christian Initiation of Adults were addressed at some level.
You may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with the John the Baptist?” After all, the image the Scriptures paint of him is pretty scary! But, for a moment, let’s put that image aside. Take away the locust and honey diet, the camel hair attire, and the commands to repent. Let’s just consider what it was that John did. At the core, what was his ministry?
John brought people to Christ. He called people to be born again through baptism and follow the one whose sandals he was unworthy to fasten. He certainly had a dramatic way of going about it, but it worked. It was John who led them to Christ. Not some angel, not some star. A man. A smelly, crazy looking, wild eyed man.
This past week, I heard a very profound quote. “Shepherds don’t make sheep. Sheep make sheep.” Think about it for a moment. Reflect for just a moment about what that means to you as a baptized Christian.
Jesus instructed his disciples to “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” This work of making disciples, of making sheep, is not just the work of the clergy. It is not even just the work of the RCIA catechists and sponsors. It is the work of ALL of us. By virtue of your baptism, it is not just your right, it is our responsibility to make sheep.
You may be sitting there asking, “How do I do that? I don’t know anything about bringing people into the church. I am not even sure I know everything I should know about being Catholic myself! I don’t have time to be attending those classes on Tuesday nights. I do enough for the church already.”
Shepherds don’t make sheep. Sheep make sheep. And although it has been a while since I have been around any sheep, I do not recall that they fret about how to make more sheep. They simply do it. How do they do it? By acting like sheep!
Christians make Christians by acting like Christians. Love you neighbor. Don’t just be with those you love. Love those you are with. Participate in the Sunday liturgy fully, consciously and actively. Sing out with joy to the Lord every day. Proclaim the Good News at home, at school, at work. Use words only when necessary.
Use the Eucharistic Liturgy to nourish your faith. Chew upon the Body of Christ from the Ambo as well as the Table. But do not simply stop there. Go. Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord in all People!!!! We are sent. Each and every Sunday, we are sent. We are sent not just to eat donuts and chit chat outside the Church. We are sent not just to rush home to get on with our weekend activities. We are sent to Love and Serve the Lord. The nourishment we receive at the Eucharistic table is not just for us. We are to use it to build up the Body of Christ. It is to bring about the Kingdom of God. It is to make Disciples of all Nations. It is to make sheep!
So, let us join John the Baptist in fulfilling that mission. While we may not be wearing Camel Hair and eating locusts, in today’s world, if we live a life consistent with the message of love and forgiveness proclaimed by Christ, I promise you we will look just as strange! And amazingly enough, people will follow us nevertheless!