Catching flies

I love idioms. I love starting a sentence with, “You know what they say.” I love trying to figure out where they originate from and what the true meaning behind them is. I won’t beat around the bush anymore, and just get to my topic. 

So, you know how they say, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”? This is something I have been figuring out lately. I went on the March for Life again this year in Washington, D.C. It is an amazing experience every year and I love that hundreds of thousands of people gather together for the same cause to witness peacefully to the dignity of life. It’s the power of prayer, the witness of love for life, which has the ability to change hearts.

I worked at a pregnancy resource center for about five years as a volunteer counselor. I met with so many women who found themselves in a scary and unexpected situation. It wasn’t our logical conversations that made them feel like they could continue with the pregnancy, nor was it starting off the conversation with “well Scripture says.” If women did decide to continue with their pregnancy it is because we help them to understand the love of God through our compassion and gentleness. It is because they opened their hearts to the graces that God pours forth in all situations. 

I learned working there the true importance of speaking the truth in love. There is a saying about teaching which states that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. The same goes with evangelization. People do not care if you tell them that God loves them and that He is good if you can’t show them that God loves them and that He is good. In a homily in February of last year, Pope Francis said, “If you happen to be with an atheist who tells you that he does not believe in God, you can read him the whole library, where it says that God exists, and where it is proven that God exists, and he will not believe. [However] if in the presence of this same atheist you witness to a consistent, Christian life, something will begin to work in his heart. It will be your witness that brings him the restlessness on which the Holy Spirit works.”

Christ wants us to be passionate about Him, to share His love and compassion but we have to model it. And we must model it with a spirit of joy. Speaking the truth in love does not mean belittling our beliefs to responses of “yeah I know, it stinks that the Church feels that way, but what are we going to do.” It means we show how great it is to live a life that Christ is calling us to. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis writes, “Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the Good News not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ.”

To be fishers of men, to be catchers of flies, we must be joyful, compassionate Christians. We need to be messengers of mercy by first being people of mercy. We need to be messengers of peace by first being people of peace. Lent is a great time to work on these virtues. We can spend the upcoming 40 days as a time to work on being the evangelizers that Christ needs us to be. As they say, actions speak louder than words.

Disclaimer: I did find out that the saying “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is actually false. Flies are more attracted to vinegar because it smells like rotting fruit and so they are drawn to the smell. Fun fact!

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.com.

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