Here are seven simple tips for sharing Christ this Christmas with your family, friends, co-workers and even the guy who just cut you off in the parking lot on the way to Midnight Mass.
1. Put the oxygen mask on yourself first. In other words, don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season overwhelm you to the point that you shelve your own prayer life. In order to share our faith, we need to be living our faith in an active and intentional way. Be sure to pray daily, get to confession and Mass and spend time soaking in the Real Presence of Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration. Fortifying ourselves spiritually will give us the strength and the tools to fortify others.
2. Smile. Sounds too easy, right? Wrong. A smile transmits the joy that we experience in our hearts. A simple smile is a welcoming invitation. Pope Francis speaks often of the joy of the Lord and the importance of radiating that joy to others. He plainly stated in a homily on May 10, 2013: “Sometimes these melancholic Christians' faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life.” This Christmas, let your smile bring the joy of the Christ to all those you meet.
3. Let your Christmas card do the talking. Take advantage of the lowly Christmas card and turn it into an evangelization tool. Send a religious Christmas card which boldly states the reason for the season and include in it a handwritten, sincere note to the recipient. In these days of text messages and Instagram posts, a handwritten note is a rarity and can be a great source of encouragement and joy for the recipient. Pray a Hail Mary for each person as you write out your cards and let your note be an expression of your love and prayers.
4. Bear wrongs patiently. One of the corporal works of mercy, bearing wrongs patiently is sometimes the best way to be Christ-like in a challenging situation. Christmas can be full of difficult people, operating under stressful circumstances. Instead of letting emotions rule the day, ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to let both little and not so little wrongs go. Forgive the person from your heart and offer up any injustices you have experienced for the salvation of souls.
5. Use “I” statements. Your office Christmas party or family dinner is not the time to fine tune your preaching career or put the finishing touches on your latest theological treatise. Instead, the best way to share your faith is to share your testimony. St. Peter tells us “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1Pet 3:15-6) Share what the Lord is doing in your life in simple, “non-church” language. Use “I” statements when you speak . For example “I was really touched at a Women’s Conference I just went to at my church” or “I felt so much peace this week after I went to confession.” These first person statements can plant the seeds of faith in the person you are talking to without putting them on the defensive.
6. Serve others. St. Paul tells us that in the Incarnation Jesus himself “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” (Phil 2:7) One of the best ways to share Christ with others is to imitate him. Christmas provides lots of opportunities to serve others. Local nursing homes and soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers to help. If time is short, consider making a donation of money or gifts to help those in need. Finally, don’t miss out on the opportunities in your own home to serve – doing household chores and the “work” of holiday celebrations with a cheerful disposition is a great demonstration of a servant’s heart – the heart of Christ.
7. Extend an invitation. The power of a simple, personal invitation is greatly underestimated. This Christmas, plan to invite at least one person to go to Mass, Adoration or Confession with you. Don’t be discouraged if you get turned down – that invitation will not be in vain, and that person may respond to you at a later date.
Finally, don’t stress out that you haven’t converted the world (or even grumpy Uncle Charlie) by the Epiphany. St. Paul in 1 Cor 3:6 tells us “I planted, Appolos watered, but God gave the growth.” All our prayers, acts of love, and witnesses to the Gospel plant seeds in the hearts of the recipients. How and when those seeds sprout is in the hands of the Lord himself and we can rest comfortably in that knowledge.Most of all this Christmas, let us rejoice in the Lord for the gift of salvation that we celebrate!