An extract from Bishop Patrick McKinney’s Pastoral Letter
for the Solemnity of Pentecost, 28th May 2023
Last year, in a piece of research called ‘Talking Jesus’, 4,000 adults across the UK were asked about Christianity. Of those who were not Christians, 53% knew someone who was a practising Christian in the UK, and only 2% of them knew a Christian minister. It was overwhelmingly lay practising Christians that these people knew.
Of those asked, 54% believed that Jesus was a real human person, 24% of people didn’t know how to describe Jesus, and only 16% of those interviewed believed that Jesus rose physically from the dead. So this fairly recent research shows us something of the missionary task we have as Catholics. […]
74% of those who were not Christians felt comfortable when a Christian talked to them about their faith in Jesus, and 41% felt closer to the Christian who had humbly and sensitively shared their faith. As a result of this, 33% of the people interviewed wanted to know more about Jesus, and 36% were open to an experience of an encounter with Jesus!
This research seems to indicate that there are a surprising number of people who are genuinely open to hearing more about Jesus from committed Christians; from people, just like you, who can humbly share with others your experience of knowing Jesus and his love for you, and how your relationship with Jesus shapes the way you try to live your lives. […]
The courage of the first disciples in speaking to others about Christ will need to become more and more a feature of our own lives as Christians today; the courage to speak humbly and honestly to others about the difference that knowing, loving, and serving Jesus, makes to our lives; and the courage to invite those we encounter to consider becoming Christians or, if they have drifted away from Church, to consider accepting some support to help them to get to know again, Jesus and his Church.
This more invitational approach to mission will take courage on our part, because many of us do not find it easy to speak about our Christian faith, or even our prayer; many of us also struggle with our conscience about whether we should speak out on certain topics and matters we experience at work or in our neighbourhood. Why? Because so many of us do not like to stand out from the crowd, and because we often feel a little unsure about what to say, and how best to say it. […]
The call of Jesus to his disciples, ‘go make disciples of all nations’ went hand in hand with Jesus’ promise to send them the Holy Spirit. They were not to bear witness to Jesus without the help of the Spirit. We too have been given the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation to help us bear witness to Jesus. […]
Please join me in praying this Pentecost that each of us may become more open to the Holy Spirit, and so more missionary in our words and actions.