The Christian missionary may preach the gospel to the poor naked heathen, but the spiritual heathen who populate Europe have as yet heard nothing of Christianity.
At work today, one of the children I was working with noticed my necklace, which is a gold crucifix.
“I like your church necklace,” he said genuinely. I thanked him and went on with our lesson. He stopped again a few minutes later to comment again on my necklace. “That’s that church guy,” he said pointing to Jesus. “Yes, this is Jesus,” I said. I smiled, he smiled and we went on with our lesson.
It made me happy to know that I brought the name of Jesus to a boy of eight years old. It also made me a little sad. It was obvious he wasn’t familiar with the name Jesus. It was obvious church wasn’t a place he was familiar with. I thought of myself at his age. By the age of eight I knew my basic prayers (and more), I absolutely knew who Jesus was (along with God, the Holy Spirit, Mary, the current pope and various saints), I had been to church weekly (and more frequently) for years, and I had three sacraments under my belt. Compared to this boy, I was swimming in grace by the age of eight. Yet I look at how much I’ve struggled just to retain my faith and remain faithful. It is sad when the name of Jesus is first spoken to you not by loving parents, but by a stranger. But I suppose it is better to hear His most holy name than to never hear it. And I am sure that God can transform a soul with a sliver of grace, if He so wills.
What mind can understand its mystery,
what tongue can do justice to the gift of grace?
Evil reverts to innocence,
the ancient becomes new,
outsiders are adopted into the family,
and strangers enter into their inheritance.
-St Leo the Great