Have you ever quoted the Gospel to someone outside the halls of your church? Have you ever wondered aloud in a conversation how Jesus would react to what you were talking about?
My husband often says we haven’t really learned something unless we can repeat it to someone else. Have you felt that you had really learned a message from the Gospel enough to repeat it and use it effectively in conversation?
I have to admit that, many months ago, if I had asked myself those questions, the answer would have been a firm no. Despite the fact that many of my friends and family share my faith, we often aren’t talking about what Jesus might think about our jobs, our relationships or our feelings on the current state of politics. It’s awkward to start suddenly talking about Jesus. It can make me self-conscious to suddenly bring up something I heard in the Gospel that week. And bringing such things up to people who aren’t regular churchgoers? Forget about it.
Lately, though, I have been a little braver when it comes to trying, when applicable, to bring the Gospel into my conversations with others. My intent is not to shove Scripture or my faith into anyone’s face, or appear more holy than I am. But doing it is also a way of reminding myself of Jesus’ teachings in my everyday life, so that I might more fully live out the Gospel, not just preach it.
Take, for example, a recent conversation with my twin sister. She expressed her nervousness and worry over the future as her husband applies for medical school residencies. This residency could take them anywhere and she is worried about starting over somewhere new. As she shared her fears, I was reminded of Matthew’s Gospel 6:24-34, where Jesus tells us to let go of our anxieties and trust that God will provide. Specifically in that conversation, I quoted, “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life? ... Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” My sister is not particularly religious, so I knew it was a risk sharing those words with her, but, to my pleasure and surprise, she was open to it, and thanked me for sharing the passage.
Can you take time this month to find a passage, word or phrase from the Gospel that you can use to assuage fears of a friend or bring hope or solace to a family member? Speech doesn’t always result in action, so this challenge is twofold. Can you then take bits of your own medicine and use those same words to help yourself?
Because I used the phrases from Matthew’s Gospel to help calm down my sister and, on several other occasions, to help nervous or anxious friends, I have more readily thought of them when my own worries set in. Whether these concerns are as mundane as what to make for dinner or something much bigger, such as what will happen to our lives when my husband graduates from graduate school, I now more quickly think of those two lines from Matthew’s Gospel. They bring me peace and comfort in those worrisome times, just as I hope they did for my sister and friends. Quoting phrases of the Gospel to others has helped me to remember them more when I need them myself, and I can more readily allow tomorrow to take care of itself.
Anna Jones is a writer who lives in New Haven. She and her husband are members of the St. Thomas More Chapel and Center Community at Yale University.