Called to be witnesses – Catholic Leader


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By Terry Lees

“WHAT am I to do, Lord?”

Saul asked when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 22: 10).

His life was forever changed as he transformed to Paul, the fiery, single-minded Apostle.

Paul saw the appearance of Jesus as a call or commissioning: “God, who has specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach the Good News about him” (Galatians 1: 15).

Paul was called to witness.

In February 2010, I recall travelling to Townsville from my home in Mount Isa, feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation at a monumental leap as a layman, with a long, established career and background in media, sales, marketing and business administration, into a whole new world of ministry for which I had zero experience.

I was to be commissioned by Bishop Michael Putney as Director of the Western Ministry for Spirituality for the Townsville Diocese.

Here I was, at 65 years of age, being removed in an incredible way from my comfort zone, with a seemingly wide, deep chasm confronting me.

In addition, I had big shoes to fill – the previous coordinator had devoted more than 17 years to the role with constancy and commitment and she was a legend.

I wondered who was crazier, God or me.

Decision: “Yet the call had been strong and I knew that God was leading me to create a new path as part of His plan for me.”

Yet the call had been strong and I knew that God was leading me to create a new path as part of His plan for me.

And, I had long been a risk-taker, used to making leaps of faith, so, I launched out into the deep.

The next three-plus years were dedicated to pursuing a vision of strengthening spiritual development, knowledge and awareness of God in the lives of people and communities across the west.

Through the wisdom of hindsight, I see those years were also essential for my own spiritual formation, my journey of enrichment and for what lay ahead.

In the past I may have questioned God as to the purpose behind this life-changing event.

But I have learned that God does work in mysterious ways, and that with God there are no accidents – everything in my life has been and still is part of God’s plan for me.

Perhaps my greatest learning is the one that has been the hardest and taken the longest to accept, that of surrender to the will of God. And even now, I’m not sure that I am fully here.

I remain a work in progress.

A vocation is a call given by God; it is a call of love. God makes His will known in so many ways and through so many signs.

We need to be awake and alert.

Like St Paul, we too are called to witness. “God has chosen you to know his will … You are to be his witness before all humankind, testifying to what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22: 15-16).

Jesus instructs us: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Mark 16:5).

Pope St Paul VI said, “People today listen to witnesses rather than teachers.”

Light of faith: “To evangelise, to proclaim the Good News, emanates from my heart and is expressed in words inspired by the Spirit.”

We are invited to go out among the people, wherever we are, and to share the Good News of God’s endless love and saving grace.

We are beloved children of God, bearers of hope, a light to the world, and to those we encounter.

Sow the seeds with endurance and boldness and be faithful.

The seed of the Word will grow and produce fruits, independent of the efforts of human beings because it has an inner power, being the Word of God.

So, share and gift your Good News freely and generously.

Sow the seeds.

These words open childhood memories of the wonderful gardens planted and tended lovingly by my paternal Grandfather in western Sydney.

Although I did not inherit the “green thumb” of my Granddad, I am drawn to consider that God calls us to prepare, plant and tend another type of garden – a garden of souls to whom we are to reach through the gifts we have been given. Although it is a garden we are unlikely to harvest, we are given the seeds to plant.

Vital: “Prayer is a kind of musical score, where we put the melody of our lives.”

We are called to proclaim the Good News, to be “fishers of men”, workers with strength of character, courage, firmness, patience, perseverance, and team workers – called to venture into the deep to proclaim God’s Word and catch people for the Kingdom.

We make our new beginnings only where we are and with what we have. We pray, Father, that like St Paul, we have single-mindedness of purpose.

We pray we will bless others with our God-given gifts and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Have a golden day and treasure life.

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