I can remember as far back from when I was 18 or 19 years old, wanting to preach and teach others about the goodness of God and the beauty of the Catholic Church. I can remember wanting so desperately to jump up in front of an audience of strangers and start sharing with them everything I knew about Christ and the Catholic Church. Now looking back I can say quite confidently that if I had done so, I would not have been up in front of that audience for long. I mean, I could have told them so much about how much God loves us and what Christ's mission was, but my knowledge about the Catholic Church, even though I was raised in a very good Catholic household, went through the Catholic education system here in Perth (Western Australia), and attended Sunday school and so forth, my overall knowledge of theology was a bucket with a single drop within.
10 years on I have learned so much, and most of my learning has stemmed from a desire to learn more since I started teaching Religious Education in Catholic high schools almost six years ago now. While I'm not "full bottle" on all topics, I know enough to get me by in a discussion with your average cynic of the Catholic Church.
There's a student from the school that I work at that, over the last couple of months, has been coming to me asking questions on certain matters pertaining to the faith or the Church itself. At my last meeting with this student, he was asking about "tenable" excuses to miss Mass. By the end of the discussion this student realised that Mass can only be missed under some pretty severe circumstances and that he himself should begin attending Mass on a more regular basis. Before I left this student so I could go and prepare for my next class, he commented on how I seem to have "an answer for everything" and he described as, and these were his own words, a "Jesus on stand-by". Now, he wasn't suggesting I was some sort of Messiah figure or a Jesus replacement, but I believe he was making a statement on the wisdom and knowledge that I had and my ability to give good answers, maybe not in the same way that Jesus did when cynics and others asked questions of him, but enough to make this young man feel convicted.
It was the "I get it!" moment this student had that made and makes all that time reading, researching, studying, and investigating worthwhile, and I feel greatly upon my heart to share what I know with strangers so that they themselves may also hopefully have "I get it!" moments. I just hope the Lord blesses me with numerous opportunities for me to do so just like my apologetics heroes do (in no particular order):
Fr. Mitch Pacwa
Fr. Tim Deeter
Sr. Rosalind Moss (for her warmth and compassion)
... and others that teach so confidently and with great patience.
I will never know as much as these people or be as gifted as them, but their zeal for what they do inspires me to want to do more; to reach further out! This is a light I cannot keep hidden under the bed; may the Lord bless me with opportunities to teach others about my Catholic faith!