“Living the Gospel, Spreading the Gospel”
By Izumi Sakura
On Sunday, September 2, after the English mass, some of us from the international community hurried to join the ‘Mini Workshop’ which had already started from 1 p.m. in Joseph Hall. When we arrived, Fr. Hanafusa, the Pastor of our parish was giving the Introductory Talk for the theme: Living the Gospel, Spreading the Gospel”. He was explaining the points for our reflection and group sharing:
a) Share about your manner or approach regarding “living the Gospel, spreading the Gospel”. What are the things you are being conscious of in this line?
b) In actually proclaiming the Gospel, what were the experiences you have had that went well? What were the particular manner or approach you used which brought good result?
Fr. Hanafusa pointed out that many of the Japanese faithful may be the only Christian in the family and experience most difficulty when they try to share their faith with family members. He added that Japan is said to be the most difficult society to evangelize among mission countries and we need to have the courage to go out of ourselves. While acknowledging that St. Ignatius Church is already an evangelizing community, given the large number of baptisms every year, very exceptional in the whole of Japan, he continued to animate us to share our experiences of sharing the joy of the Gospel, be inspired by one another and to become even more aware that each one is a missionary.
The participants formed sharing groups (10 groups in Japanese with representatives from the Spanish speaking community in one of them, 2 groups in English) and were given ample time for sharing. Afterwards, in the bigger assembly, each group gave a summary of what was shared. We all noticed that regardless nationality, we seemed to have a common approach: not to impose our faith, but share it through witness of life. “Let your joy of faith in God radiate; take the step to go out with creativity; start from “where they are” – their preoccupations, needs, questionings; spread the Gospel through values of family and life; if you are a Christian living in Japan be aware that you are on mission; be aware that it’s the Holy Spirit that takes the initiative, be attentive to His promptings.” Not a few people shared that, “with much prayer” their family members have converted and received baptism.
As it was the first time the members of the international community participated, maybe we could also ask ourselves: Why evangelize, why do we care? What does it have to do with me? Evangelization comes from the heart of Christ which is one with the heart of the Father. We are sent forth by the heart of Christ, because the Father wants to bring back everyone to be his children. We are no better than the others, we just happened to come to know we are children of God through Jesus Christ, so with this burning fire of the love of Christ, we go out to our brothers and sisters to proclaim the “Good News”!
The “Mini-Workshop” also turned out to be a welcoming opportunity for the international community and Japanese parish members to jointly take part in the Mission 2030 initiative. May the Lord continue to unite our parishioners of diverse walks of life and nationalities.
The next Workshop will be on November 4 at 3 p.m. In Joseph Hall.