My sophomore year at the University of Illinois, my friend Alice finally thrust an application for a Koinonia retreat into my hands. She had already filled it out, and the only reason she didn’t just turn it in for me was out of common courtesy: to make sure the dates worked in my calendar. Truth be told, she had already invited me at least five times up to that point to this “life-giving” retreat experience, but as a busy, non-committal college student, I found plenty of convenient excuses to turn her invitations down.
For reasons I couldn’t discern at the time, Alice cared about me having this real experience of Christ’s love— and like the friend at midnight, it was her perseverance that won me over. And I’ll be honest: that retreat was the beginning of a long road that led me, in His time, to the priesthood. Without Alice’s joyful and persistent invitation, there’s a real possibility that I would not be a priest today.
We are an Easter people! Like the Apostles, we experience anew this Easter the joy and the glory, the profound and life-giving Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead—the moment that Christ definitively conquers in us anything that could ever separate us from Him. And we, like the apostles, are promised at Pentecost an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, precisely so that we can witness to what we have seen.
Imagine if the apostles had kept the Resurrection to themselves, just their little secret. Where would our world be today? Our call this Easter is to spread the Word. To not stay silent. To witness to the joy of the Risen Christ.
If we are convicted of the truth of Jesus Christ, returning to our former ways of life is not an option. We must commit ourselves to the Lord and to sharing the joyful news of His Resurrection. As the numbers in our pews decrease, opportunities for witness abound! Whether it’s a friend or a family member, a colleague or a neighbor, that lady who teaches your spin class or the guy who makes your coffee in the morning—extend the invitation. Don’t stop just because you get a non-committal answer. Be joyful, but be brave. Who knows? By your persistence and your joy, you may just change someone’s life forever.
Fr. Michael Friedel is a Parochial Vicar for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.