Our Lord sent seventy-two disciples ahead of Him, in pairs, to prepare people to receive Him. Jesus needs us to do the work of pre-Evangelization. Before people can hear Jesus’ words of love and self-giving, they need to see what that love and self-gift look like in practice. Our works of service toward others provide this foundation of pre-Evangelization.
Think of it this way. Before you ever set foot in a church, someone introduced you to Jesus by their care for you. Most likely, this took the form of your parents or guardians preparing you for baptism. But for those who did not grow up in the practice of the faith, this first contact often comes in the form of a kindness shown to them in a time of trouble. Christians show sympathy for those who suffer and reach out to those in need. This first contact with Christ through His Body, the Church, is essential to opening our hearts to understand Who Jesus is. We introduce them to Christ by serving them in His name. Then, when they ask why we do this, we can point them to Christ more explicitly.
Jesus asked his disciples to live with the people they serve, to stay in one place for some time and really take part in those peoples’ lives. He did not send them with money to bribe potential followers, nor even with enough goods to make the disciples self-sufficient. He simply asked them to go out and bring his peace to others, regardless of how that peace would be received. He empowered them to cure the sick, and He asked them to spread the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God.
So if we are feeling ill-equipped for mission work, take comfort. Jesus asks us only to go out—to get out of our comfort zones and encounter people where they are, and to live with them, encourage them, and share with them the healing, hope, and joy that we have received from Him. Each time we are dismissed from Mass, the deacon or priest commands us to “go forth” with the blessings we have received in the Eucharist. Let us take this command to heart and do our part to lay the foundation for the building up of Christ’s Church.