I spent this week with university students who hang out with each other, pray together, eat meals together, play football together, go to movies together, go to confession (separately!) together, and live a friendship together.
It convinced me all over again that the path of the New Evangelization is the path of friendship. It is the path of the mustard seed that starts small but grows. It can't be forced or contrived. It has to begin with an encounter that moves the heart and fills it with an abiding joy. When this happens, then we can share the joy of the Gospel with others. Sure, I wish that this method could be put into a program and imposed on every Catholic institution, but it would fail. This method is always beyond our capacity to control. It happens one friendship at a time, one witness at a time.
This week, I was reminded that this method is true. It may not be flashy or novel. It is, however, what happened two thousand years ago and it is what convinces me of Christ today. I'm going to remain faithful to this method. But, I've come to realize something. This method will never be adopted as a strategy. And, that's a good thing. Friendship isn't a strategy or a program.
I think many strategies and programs will likely hinder the New Evangelization because they depend too much on human ingenuity and not enough on Christian friendship. These methods seem to be all about what we're doing and what we're rebuilding. The apostles went out and preached the Gospel because of who they met and what He was doing. It's a big difference. I'm putting my bet on the mustard seed.