For Christmas, I was able to go home for the first time since our formation year at Covecrest began in September. I was so excited to go home and see my family, and it was great. I have a great relationship with my family, so it was truly a blessing to be able to spend two weeks with them. I got to go to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve with my mom at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis, which was celebrated by Archbishop Sheehan. (Definitely the coolest mass I’ve been to in a while!) I got to do lots of amazing things, and spend time with lots of amazing people.
One thing I witnessed, though, is that the most difficult place to be on mission—to share Christ’s love and spread the Good News of his death and resurrection—is at home, with the people I love the most. Why? I believe this is because the greatest risk we face as missionaries is that of rejection. I love on complete strangers all the time. I smile at people I see at Walmart. I say kind words to people I pass on the street. I give talks to teens about Christ’s love and the way it has transformed my life and invite them to know Christ in a new, intimate way. I’ve been on mission in foreign countries. I’ve done a lot of things most people think of when they think of “being a missionary,” but they all involve interaction with strangers, whose rejection of me is not that intimidating. It is much more difficult to share the Gospel with those we love, especially if they do not already believe in Christ’s love for them. The rejection of those we love is hard to deal with and sometimes very painful. The fear of this potential rejection, for me at least, can cripple me and leave me unable to be outwardly missionary to my family.
Don’t get me wrong: my family loves me very much and they respect me greatly, even if they don’t totally understand why I would take two years (or more) to serve the Church instead of going to grad school and establishing a career. Their definition of success is not a bad definition—it’s just different from my own definition. Sometimes, this difference in opinion makes it seem like they really don’t like what I’m doing, and that makes it hard to tell my family how much God loves them.
I try to be missionary to my family in other ways, through serving them or loving them or praying for them, and sometimes talking about my own faith, but I have to ask myself: is it enough? Is that all that God is asking of me, or is he asking me to step out in courage and faith, face that risk of rejection, and tell my family in blatant, unflinching boldness, “God loves you so much and his love will change your life?”