Allocutio for the Legion of Mary meeting - 20 February 2017
One big aspect of being a Legionary is the apostolate work we do, which is actually evangelization.
Fr Bede McGregor, O.P gave this definition of evangelization at the 2012 International Eucharistic Congress.
"Evangelization is facilitating an authentic meeting of another person with Jesus Christ…"
“Authentic”. There are many imitation goods circulating in the markets in our time. You might have watched the online video. We can even use plastic to make something that looks and feels so much like a real cabbage. But however similar it is, it is not real. And how do we tell? By the substance. What is beneath the superficial that the eye cannot see.
I would like to suggest that it is also possible to facilitate imitation meetings of people with Jesus through the work that we do in His Name. Acts we may perform that look charitable, kind, loving. But the substance beneath the surface might not actually be charity, kindness and love. It may be obligation, self-glorification, even Christian duty and the list goes on.
The truth is… Imitation meetings with Jesus cannot allow a person to truly encounter Him. And that is not evangelisation.
Since God is love, authentic encounters with Jesus is the encounter with love itself. When we love and the person experiences this love, he is experiencing God, even though he may not be aware it is God. I was working in a women's shelter, and there were moments a girl was crying because of family problems. I can be beside her and place my hand on her back to comfort her. But I can do that while thinking about something else actually or just telling myself that she is crying, I am a staff here, and so I should do something to comfort her. In my heart, I am not with her in her pain, I am not loving her by my presence, and she will not experience love.
The work we do becomes only the router for us to transmit the signal of love. And only then can the person come to know Jesus and the compassionate love of God. John Powell wrote, “Unselfish human love is the sacramental introduction to the God of love.”
And this is our call and purpose of our Legionary work. We work as part of a larger reality of Church, to continue Jesus’ mission of spreading the Good News of God’s infinite love for His people. Our apostolate work is not just to make a suffering person feel better, to offer help to one who is not coping optimally, etc. These are different expressions of our one underlying mission to continue the mission of Jesus.
And this was what Mary did, especially by being herself the vessel that brought Jesus into our world. She gave Love to us. We are familiar with the story of the Annunciation. Her ‘yes’ was needed for the incarnation, for God to love us through Jesus. Similarly, our ‘yes’ is needed for the continued incarnation of God through our apostolate work. Not just an imitation incarnation but that deep within us as we are performing each work, we love. In what we say, we love. In what we hold ourselves back from saying or doing, we love. That love becomes the energy at the foundation of all we think, say and do.
I would like to invite us in this week, in all our daily routines and the additional we may do as our Legionary apostolate work, that we pay extra attention to our very subtle intentions. May we be more conscious to love as Jesus loves us. Amen.