The Importance of Evangelizing (click on link to hear homily)
The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened. — Matthew 13:33
The kingdom of heaven, my dear friends, means, as you know, in this as well as in many other of our Lord’s parables, not God’s kingdom in the next world, but in this—that is, his holy Catholic Church. Understanding it in this way, it is easy to see why he compares it to a grain of mustard-seed or to leaven ; for it was small in the beginning, but has grown, as the mustard-seed grows, so that it now has spread through the whole earth; and it was not noticed in the beginning, as the little leaven or yeast would not be in the dough into which it is put, but has now made its influence felt in all the world, as that of the yeast is in the bread which it makes.
This was our Lord’s intention, that his church should be continually growing till every one should enter if, till every heart should be leavened by its faith. But there are some people—Catholics, too, but a very curious kind of Catholics—who seem to think that the church was only made for those nations or those families which now belong to it, and will even blame those who are converted to it for leaving the religion of their fathers. I do not know what excuse one can make for these persons, except to suppose that God has blessed them with a very small share of common sense.
I do not think that there are many people so stupid as to talk in this way; but there are a good many who act as if they thought as these people seem to, I do not mean that there are many who give the cold shoulder to converts, for that would be an unjust reproach; but I do mean that there are many Catholics who do not seem to understand the world has got to be converted, and that they themselves have got to do their share towards it ; that they are part of that leaven with which our Lord meant that the world should he leavened; that it was by means of them, according to their measure of ability and opportunity, that he meant the faith to be diffused through the world. Every Catholic ought to be a missionary in his way and place, and do something to bring others to that knowledge of the truth which he himself has received.
Not that every Catholic should go out and preach the faith on the corners of the streets, or to people who would laugh at him or do him more harm than he could do them good; but that everyone should be on the lookout for those who are sincere and Well disposed, and be ready to give them a helping hand, to explain any difficulties which they may have, or to persuade them to come to the priest, who can explain them more fully.
But, above all, that he should spread among those who do not believe the leaven of good example, and not scandalize them by a bad life. One can hardly be too careful to avoid scandalizing even the faithful ; and much more care should be taken not to scandalize those who are seeking for the truth, and particularly about those things on which their ideas are very strict and their consciences very sensitive.
Take, for instance, the horrible vice of profane swearing, to which many of you, to your own shame you must confess, are so much addicted, and about which you are inexcusably careless. There is no doubt at all that there is many a Protestant who would not so much as think of enquiring about the faith of a person who was in the habit of blaspheming. And yet he may be really anxious to know the truth, and his soul is as dear to God as yours; and if you are the cause, by this abominable habit of yours, of his turning away in despair from the church, most assuredly you will have to give an account for it when your soul shall come to be judged. Many persons all around us are outside of the church today because of the prevalence of this sin of profanity among Catholics, because all the Catholics whom they know seem rather to be children of the devil than of the good God.
There are many other things, particularly drunkenness and falsehood, by which Catholics spread around them the leaven of bad example, and drive people away from the faith instead of drawing them to it; but I have not time to speak of all. It is for you, my brethren, to look to it that, when you come to die, you shall feel that you have indeed done something to diffuse through the world the leaven of faith and virtue, not of unbelief and vice and that our Lord will not require at your hands the blood of your brother, for whom he died as well as for you.
An Excerpt From :
Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul. Five Minute Sermons for Low Masses on All Sundays of the Year. Catholic Publication Society, 1879. Print.