Just giving a person a book isn't enough ...
Transmitting the faith is not like finding fellow fans of the same team, and it doesn’t happen simply by giving information. Rather it is a birthing process in the heart of the Church who is mother, who “gives birth to children in the faith.”
This was the reflection offered by Pope Francis this morning in his homily drawn from today’s reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.
Transmitting the faith is not about giving information, but about rooting a heart in faith, in faith in Jesus Christ. The faith cannot be transmitted mechanically. ‘Here, take this book, study it, and then I’ll baptize you.’ No. To transmit the faith, a different path is needed: to transmit what we have received. And this is the challenge of a Christian: to be fruitful in the transmission of the faith. And it is also the challenge of the Church: to be a fruitful mother, to give birth to children in the faith.
Faith is transmitted not only with words, but with “caresses,” with “tenderness,” and even with one’s “dialect,” the pope said, in reference to how the faith is passed from generation to generation, especially through mothers and grandmothers.
And the faith is transmitted not with proselytizing, but with attracting, he reiterated.
To transmit the faith is not to proselytize. It is something else. It is something greater. It is not looking for someone to support a certain soccer team or club or cultural center. All of that is fine, but for the faith, proselytism doesn’t fit. Benedict XVI said it well, ‘That the Church grows not through proselytism but through attraction.’ The faith is transmitted, but by attraction, that is, through testimony.
Francis said that a powerful testimony creates curiosity “and the Holy Spirit takes this curiosity and does his work from within.”
And the Church grows through attraction … And the transmission of the faith happens through testimony, even unto martyrdom. When a person sees coherence between what we live and what we say, curiosity always arises: ‘Why does that person live like that? Why does he live at the service of others?’ And this curiosity is the seed that the Holy Spirit takes and brings along.