St. Athanasius advises us to renew ourselves before we can preach the Gospel to others.
Jesus gave the apostles the mission of “proclaiming the Gospel” to others, a mandate that is given to every Catholic after their confirmation. However, delivering the Good News to the world should not happen if we are not first converted.
Jesus said these words plainly in the Gospel of Matthew.
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5)
It is relatively easy to try and correct other people, while very difficult to correct our own lives.
This is why our current state of “quarantine” should be used wisely to look into our own spiritual lives and correct what is lacking in our hearts.
One of the “Church Fathers,” St. Athanasius of Alexandria, echoes the sentiments of Jesus in two quotes that are commonly attributed to him.
“You cannot put straight in others what is warped in yourself.”“Similarly, anyone who wishes to understand the mind of the sacred writers must first cleanse his own life, and approach the saints by copying their deeds.”
With an abundance of time spent at home, we should examine our own conscience and try to figure out what bad habits we still hold onto. If we want to be effective evangelists, especially when we are allowed to be in the world again, we need to take a hard look at ourselves.
The reason why this is important is because our words must be backed up by our actions. If we say one thing and do another, our words lose their potency.
As Pope Paul VI put it, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”
If we ever needed an excuse to read the Bible or other spiritual books that have been on our list, now is the chance!
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