“Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and on finding him said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ He told them, ‘Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.'”
We have all heard the common adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” To a certain degree, that plays out in our everyday lives, whether it be at work, at home, or even in the garage for that matter. It is true that the more obvious a problem is to us the more likely it is that we are going to solve it first. If a pipe in a home is dripping slowly, the repair may be put off for a long time. However, if there is a profuse trickle or something of that sort, a trip to the hardware store may be in short order.
That is not the particular message that Christ is relaying in the end of this passage however. Christ is not limiting His own presence and ministry to those who are calling out to Him, or to those needs that may not be as pressing in His ministry. He is also not limiting His ministry to those to whom he has close physical proximity. Instead, when Simon comes looking for Christ to lead Him back to the people of that same town, Christ responds that, actually, He and the disciples need to move on. Has He adequately taken care of the people that He is actively leaving, however?
Surprisingly, even with others still looking for Him, the answer is yes. What He is doing is serving as a good model for evangelization. One of the major problems that the Church has encountered over the past few centuries is that it has often and inadvertently limited its range and mission to those inside the doors of the Church. This has become a problem that manifests itself, not only in evangelization, but even in view of a parishioner’s life, who often limits religious engagement to that place that is actively calling for his or her participation in worship.
We are certainly not called to limit our worship to Church during Sunday Mass. We are not called to limit our evangelization to ourselves. We are called to take up Christ’s Gospel message and permeate our entire life with it. To truly live an authentically Christian life, we need to carry the Gospel to others, especially outside the Church. This is what Christ is showing us in the Gospel message for this Sunday. If we are only seeking those who have already been found, for the most part, what happens to the others that have wandered off or never been invited into the fold of our Church to participate in our worship? What happens to those who are in dark places, and have not even heard word of the Light that is Christ?
We are not self-evangelizers strictly, nor are we limited to those who have it mostly figured out and know God in a real way. Even in our own lives, while we certainly have our daily conversions to the Lord, we need to be assessing whether we are bringing our own evangelization to those who have not heard the message, especially those who are in even more desperate need than we find ourselves. We must not limit ourselves to evangelizing those who are actively seeking, but we need to be seeking those who have never been sought. Thus, we must move on to the nearby villages ourselves, and continue to seek for all of the rest of God’s children.