The Power of "Hi"
I was on the train one day – back when I was a young teen – clad in an Adore Conference promo t-shirt, with an image of the Blessed Sacrament blaring out from the centre of my chest, when I noticed a man, aged 40-something, who seemed to me a bit rough-round-the-edges and in need of God’s love (aren’t we all!). Needless to say I was judging him left, right and centre; but then I felt called to say ‘Hi’ and perhaps begin a conversation with him. This is what I’ve come to recognise as a ‘prompting’ of the Holy Spirit. Who knows what the man will think or say or do, I thought for a moment. But I felt it was right (and I’m still convinced it was) to at least try and start conversation. I don’t know quite what I said, apart from some polite ‘Hi there, how’s your day been?’ to begin with, but for some ‘unknown’ reason this man went on to share half his life story and discuss with me some of the Church’s beliefs and practices. Fair enough, I thought.
In the end I felt a few things, firstly privileged and honoured to have had that encounter with a stranger at random, and secondly peace about the possibility of never meeting that man again – he’s in the Lord’s hands, I remember thinking. To this day, as I’ve said, I remain convinced that the encounter was a ‘God moment’, as they say. Another way of putting it is a ‘God-incidence’ as opposed/distinct from coincidence, but I feel that’s a bit lame. Still, the truth remains: there’s a real power in “Hi” when it’s an invitation from the Holy Spirit. This is part of the New Evangelization, part of our call as Christian men to evangelize at all times, “and when necessary use words”. There are a lot of lonely people around, who – if nothing else – might appreciate the gesture of someone saying ‘hello’ once in a while.
As men, we might find initiating conversation more difficult than the last level of Halo 5 on impossible difficulty, or scarier than base jumping off Mt Evelyn (I mean Mt Everest), but as Christian men we are called to have courage and humility in one, man-sized package. Humility, in that we become more open to and dependant on the Holy Spirit (who makes us God’s sons); and courage, in that we will be called on to overcome the ‘silences’ of scape-goating, injustice, oppression and exploitation – be it sexual, economic, or whatever. And there will come a time (or several) in which each of us must take a step in faith to overcome silence and darkness in one’s relationships, seeking forgiveness, reconciliation and right-relationship. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the Word:
“’And these are the ones sown on good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit…Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?...The Kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how…It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’ With many such parables he spoke to the word to them, as they were able to hear it…”
-Taken from Mark 4:20-33.