In Chapter 5 of Mark’s gospel, Jesus drives a legion of demons out of a man. Overjoyed, the man begs to go along with Jesus, to drop everything and follow him like the Apostles did. Instead, Jesus tells him no, “Go home to your own people, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” Sometimes our missionary journey is to our own dinner table or family room.
My personal Catholic journey didn’t start in a church. Well, I guess technically and formally it did. I was baptized in a church and received the sacraments there. But my true understanding of Jesus and the seeds that sprouted into a loving relationship with him began at our family dinner table. My parents were devout, old-fashioned Catholics. During the 1950s they were part of a Catholic youth movement and in their retirement years they were frequent attendees of Catholic retreats. But most of all, my parents loved to talk. Our dinner table was almost always a lively place of conversation. And often that conversation was about religion. Because of their upbringing, both Mom and Dad had a pretty fair grasp of the details of Catholicism and they were also willing to express their opinions and to listen to mine. (They also didn’t hesitate to disagree with me when my opinion was on the flakey side).
Whenever you talk to a person who is passionate about their topic, it is often the passion, rather than any specific fact or statement of opinion that sways you to their point of view. And my parents were passionate about Christianity in general and Catholicism specifically. Looking back it is clear that their passion laid the foundation for my own faith.
My parents were not famous. They were not grand orators, or studied authors or theologians. It’s doubtful that they are on the Vatican’s short list for Canonization. They were simply two people who loved Jesus and who loved their children. They passed on their love.