Saint Peter has one of the best lines in all of Scripture: “These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!” (Acts 2:15). This is, of course, Peter’s explanation to the people of Jerusalem about why the disciples seemed totally inebriated on Pentecost day.
You remember the story, right? All the disciples were in the upper room, cowering in fear. Suddenly, there was a rushing wind and tongues of fire filled up the room. And each of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. They rushed out into the streets and began proclaiming how great and powerful Jesus is.
And they are doing it in more than a dozen languages—languages none of them had ever spoken before.
Jesus? Great and powerful? Are these guys nuts? Wasn’t he the dude the Romans just crucified? They’ve got to be drunk.
Luke’s lesson for RCIA teams
Here is what is important about this story. Luke wasn’t wasting valuable papyrus just to describe a wacky day in the life of the disciples. He wanted his community to learn a lesson from the disciples’ example. And, by extension, the Church wants us to learn the same lesson. And that is, be so excited about Jesus that it causes people to notice. And once you have their attention, explain why you are so excited.
Luke’s rendition of what Peter said that day is actually a homily. Luke probably heard it many times during his own conversion and may have preached it himself when he presided over the breaking of the bread. He wrote it down because it is a template for future disciples—you and me—to use when proclaiming the good news. The template has three parts. We can use those three parts as a model for evangelization.
God is always doing something. What has God done in your life that you are really excited about? What is the essence of what God did? What can you say about that divine action (miracle?) in a sentence or two that captures describes the power of God?
God did this powerful thing through Jesus. Once people notice our excitement, they will wonder why we are so happy. (Maybe they’ll think we’re drunk!) Our explanation has to include the story of Jesus. But when we are evangelizing, we don’t want to diverge into a full doctrinal explanation of Christology. We want to tell the story of how Jesus changed our lives. It is because Jesus saved me that I can now see these powerful things God is doing.
Once we have the listeners’ attention, and once we have told how it is Jesus changed our lives, we want to invite them into that same experience. We want to offer them all the promises of hope, peace, and joy that we have been given.
One important thing to keep in mind is that this kind of “proclamation” is not based in logic. It is not meant to be a rational argument. Think of it as when you first fell in love and you couldn’t wait to tell everyone around you. Nobody expected you to have cold, logical reasons for being ecstatic about your beloved. They were thrilled for you because you were thrilled. When we talk about our love for Jesus like that, we are proclaiming the good news that people of every language can understand.
Try it yourself
Why not give this a try right now? Share a story that uses the template Luke gave us. What has God done in your life lately? How is that a part of the story of how Jesus saved you? What would you invite your listener to do next?