After many years in the streets, I’m convinced that one of the greatest obstacles to missionary success is pride, both in the missionary who doesn’t want to step into the gutter to fish for lost souls and in the potential penitents who can’t overcome their pride to find a path back to God. The antidote to pride — the opposite virtue, if you will — is humility.
At least in New York, and probably in any other city in America, humility in a missionary is very disarming. In a religious context, people have come to expect the opposite: the doomsday preachers on their soap boxes in the subways, their unhappy memories of Sr. Wanda from Catholic grammar school, and sometimes even their unsettling interaction with a particularly tough priest in a confession long, long ago. When instead they encounter humility in a missionary, their defenses go down quickly, and they can engage. So, as you head out into the streets, becoming humble is a key element in your missionary success.
Where can you get humility? One place to start is your own sinfulness. Although sin is never a good thing, as one of my confessors once pointed out to me, when we are forced to confront its reality in our lives, and when we approach the Father as the prodigal son, knowing how terribly we’ve affronted Him, how ungrateful we’ve been, how sorry we are, we walk away humbled.
A resourceful missionary will use that new found humility on the streets, to help him bring others back to the Lord.
Another place of find humility is in prayer. Contemplate the Lord’s humility in coming down from Heaven to allow Himself to be tortured and crucified by a bunch of lowly thugs like us. Wow! What a heart!
So go to the meek and humble heart of Jesus. Bow before Him. And ask for this gift.
He won’t let you down.
Rembrandt, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”