“Let Charity Move You to Reply”
Over Christmas break, I finally sat down and watched the highly appraised series, The Chosen. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the historical drama aired in 2019 and is a television series depicting the life of Jesus Christ. The eight episodes of the first season are packed with content that I will not attempt to cover. Yet, I want to highlight one simple moment that struck me deeply.
Mary Magdalene is attempting to answer the many questions of the High Priest, Nicodemus, who is speechless of her transformation. He had witnessed seven demons living within her and now sees her free from all evil spirits. She is new before his eyes and he struggles to understand. After several attempts to address the litany of questions Nicodemus has for her, she finally and simply says this,
“I don’t understand it myself. But here is what I can tell you, I was one way… and now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between was Him.”
This is by far one of the best explanations for conversion that I have heard. It is not a play by play depicting the moments that lead to a change. It does not paint a full picture of events or even give a history leading up to a specific moment. It does, however, capture the essence of how deeply profound our hearts are. There is a clear before and there is a clear after, but the middle is a mystery; the only clear thing for Mary was the person of Jesus. He is literally the only explanation she has. Not only that, but she is satisfied with this. She is at peace with this. There isn’t a need or struggle to “get it”. She has met Him. She has met Him who is Metanoia; He is The Change. As an audience, we walk away from this scene completely aware that it is Nicodemus who hungers for answers. (Which makes sense because he hasn’t actually met Jesus, yet). Mary hungers only for Jesus, the Bread of Life. She is satisfied in Him as her Metanoia, as her “thing that happened in between”.
My job title is literally Missionary. I work for a Catholic non profit organization based in Glasgow called NET Ministries. Our mission statement is to “Challenge young people to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church.” Each year in Scotland, we select a team of ten ordinary men and women between the ages of 18-28 to live in community and share their stories with young people across the country. Our team is a mini representation of the church. We are good at singing and bad at singing. We have bubbly personalities and sarcastic personalities. We are short and tall. We come from healthy families and broken families, from backgrounds of faith and backgrounds of sin. We are athletic and clumsy, shy and outgoing, natural at public speaking and terrified at public speaking. We are introverted and extroverted and every degree in between. The only thing our mission team has in common is our faith. United by a Person, we all have met the Lord in some way and have a desire to share that relationship with others. This in itself, is pretty extraordinary.
NET is an acronym which stands for National Evangelisation Teams. Founded in the United States in the early 1980’s, our Scotland mission team primarily works in the Catholic schools. In previous years, we used a day retreat model, facilitating over 100 retreats annually across six of the eight dioceses of Scotland. This year, we have adapted our model to send out the team into schools for two-six weeks at a time. (Although initially a response to the coronavirus, our new model has been incredibly successful!) We spend more time living alongside students, getting to know them, and encouraging them in such a difficult season of their lives. We get to lead classroom sessions, share deeply within small groups times, and spend time teaching the pupils what it means to have a relationship with God. We share our own experiences of prayer and faith and receive the students exactly where they find themselves in their own faith journey.
Our ministry is not aimed in teaching theology or catechizing the pupils. We are not teachers, but disciples. We share our faith primarily through our own experiences and stories. Something we hope students come to know is that faith is not simply an assent to a belief. The goal of faith is not to know. Faith, in it’s foundation, has to be a surrender to a person. As Christians we believe in God, not because we comprehend Him. And not even as an act of assenting to something we don’t comprehend. Faith is found both in the knowing and in the not knowing. It’s found in the trusting. It’s found in the belief that God is good. It’s found in His Love.
Your job title may not be Missionary - maybe it is Teacher or Dentist or Case Manager. However, I know without a doubt, that if you have met Our Lord in the intimate and secret places of your heart, you too are called to share this with others. We are all called into His Mission. We are all called to share our stories of faith, to encourage those around us, and let ourselves be encouraged as well. Whatever your story is, let others know that Jesus is your Metanoia. You don’t need to have the right words or a specific skill set. “Let Charity move you to reply!”
You can also view examples of what our ministries looks like here: