I can still remember the laughter, head nods, diligent note-taking, and applause as if it was yesterday. I remember leaving the stage after my talk and feeling like it went very well. Sometimes when giving talks on the faith, I feel like I absolutely nailed it. Then other times, I run through the whole talk afterward and wish I had said this or that a different way.
Preaching and teaching, especially about the faith, sometimes requires a lot of prep, study, practice, and prayer. It can go really well, and other times maybe not as well as one might hope.
In today’s first reading, Peter rocked it. He is preaching with fire. He is not afraid to mince words or try to sugar coat anything. I can almost hear his passion, “You killed Jesus. Jesus was the Lord. Repent and be baptized.”
But notice, Peter was not a trained theologian or scholar. He didn’t know the Catechism because it didn’t even exist yet. The scriptures were still being written and put together. He denied Jesus. And yet, three thousand persons were added that day. So what’s the message here?
The message is that we should use our gifts to the best of our ability for the Gospel. If we are good at speaking, we should try to hone our craft. If we are good at a one-on-one relationship, we should reach out to others. If we are good at writing, we should write for the Lord and let our words be as beautiful and profound as possible. But the ultimate factor that is actually going to make a difference is if we believe in and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is what sets Peter apart. He believed in the power of God. Often, with our gifts, it is easy to think it is all about us. “If I just minister to these teens in the correct way, they will be happy in heaven someday.” “If I could only give a perfect talk, all of our parishioners would fall in love with the Lord.” “If I could only give until I have nothing left, then all the poor people I minister to will see the face of the Lord.” I… I… I…
It’s not about us at all. Why do we put that kind of pressure on ourselves? Should we try our very best and use the gifts God has given us and be thankful for those gifts? Absolutely. But in reality, God is the one who converts. He is the one who softens hearts. He is the one who loves unconditionally.
As we continue to try our best to be disciples, let’s look to Mary during this month of May. Why is her example, word, and prayer so effective? Because she knows the power of her son. She is constantly pointing us towards him. It’s not about her. Mary is known as the icon of the Church, as the original disciple. Let’s take her example and go out and preach with the fire of Peter, the humility of Mary, and complete trust in the Holy Spirit and power of God. May God Bless you!
Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.