Contributed by Deacon Dana Nearmyer, Director of Evangelization, Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas
The Hebrew word Shamar means to protect, to treasure, to wait for, to nurture. Adam was instructed to Shamar in Gen 2:15: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to Shamar it.” Adam was to Shamar the garden, his own heart, and Eve’s heart and soul. Adam and Eve, you and me, we are both physical and spiritual beings. We are to Shamar or nurture the interior life, heart and soul of those in our care. Spouses must Shamar or nurture each other’s heart and souls or soon they will be strangers in the same house. Parents, your kids are hungry and thirsty for Shamar. Deep conversation, belly laughs, tender tears and creating memories are part of Shamar. Individuals and couples seeking counseling often ask “how do I take care or nurture others when I have never, or rarely, taken or nurtured my own heart and soul?" It takes practice, resolve and renewed focus. As men, many around us trust that we can provide a firm foundation for our families.
The annual February FIRE retreat creates space to recalibrate and focus. The impact of the retreat can be powerful and, at times, transformational, but will it persist? How will you care about and for others when your tank again empties and your focus is lost.
Two things that I am working are building trust with my family and friends and living a Prayer, Care, Share lifestyle.
Trust is an essential ingredient in the loving work of evangelization and solid relationships with God and others. As a matter of fact, it is the first step. Pre-trust and trust are the gateways into having and sharing a personal faith journey. We must build authentic trust in our relationships if we are to effectively witness the faith with our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. We must listen and know their stories, hopes, hurts and dreams. Trust is the critical foundation in vibrant relationships. Jesus modeled the work of building trust for us in His openness to others. He shared meals with tax-collectors and sinners (Luke 5:29-39). Meeting others where they are requires us to step out of our safe-places and securities. We will be stretched, uncomfortable and uneasy. But this cannot deter our efforts. When we acknowledge the small sufferings we experience and call the Holy Spirit into the uncomfortable places, we will be sustained with grace in our efforts. Jesus came into our chaotic world and continues to sustain each of us with His strength, through the difficulties and challenges we bear in His Name.
Prayer - Care - Share
The tested approach of prayer-care-share offers a tremendous tool for our Archdiocese in building a culture of evangelization, strengthening marriages & families and bringing the light of Christ to our communities. The prayer-care-share method has been utilized in Christian and Catholic circles and has created waves of evangelical zeal throughout the world.
Prayer is the most powerful tool in the world. All power and goodness flows out of God – this is called primacy of grace. The work of the Holy Spirit in each person’s heart is the first act of evangelization; our efforts to support this work are always secondary. In the prayer-care-share model, we ask God (through prayer) for direction toward “who” He desires for our investment of time, nurturing and discipleship. It should be noted that sacramental relationships, like that of spouses, parents and priests, require a place of priority for our nurturing. Husbands and wives are sacramentally bound to care for each other’s souls. Parents who have baptized their children are accountable to God for the promises they make in cultivating the spiritual formation of their children. Priests, by nature of their ordination and code of canon law, are responsible to shepherd their flock. In addition to those primary relationships, we may also be called to reach out to our extended family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Our prayers for the “who” allows us to be open to collaborating with God in this moment of salvation history.
In addition to praying for the “whom”, we prayerfully trust that God will orchestrate the “how” and “what to say and do”. It is frequently said that timing is everything; it is no different in evangelization. In praying for the “what to say and do”, along with the “when”, we are literally guided through the tangled and confusing decisions of our close relationships by God Himself. Even our best thinking about timing and action absent of God’s assistance often leaves a wake of division and regret. Prayerful focus on trusting God’s role has been called praying for a “divine appointment.” Whenever we let God guide the “who, what (to say & do) and when” our relationships will grow stronger. Even if we are not successful by our standards, we know that trusting His guidance and following His Will is our primary task. God cares deeply about our close relationships and wants to guide us through difficult subjects and touchy issues.
Care is an outward sign of our internal disposition. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) we are given a model of caring for the vulnerable. A nurturing heart builds trust through care—all key ingredients in relationships. The Good Samaritan reflects a care that transcends belief barriers; likewise we are called to care on the basis of human dignity. This can take many forms, sometimes concentrated on the needs of the body (as witnessed by the Good Samaritan) and other times it can simply be recognizing the need for an attentive ear. Listening is fundamental to caring. We often feel we know how to care for others, but we must prayerfully discern the best way to care for each individual. Sometimes, with the best intentions, we can “care” for people (spouses, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, parishioners) in ways that actually frustrate and cause division. Listening brings us to an understanding of others, allowing us to more clearly see how to care for them in a way that builds trusting relationships.
Share is a wonderful stage in relationship building. In sharing, we exchange stories – often deep and engaging accounts of events in our life. Having prayed for direction, God paves our way for deep personal sharing. At this stage, trust is palpable and our Christianity seeps into our activities. We share stories, challenges and triumphs that reflect the mountains and valleys of our lives. This is not about convincing someone to believe what you know, but likely includes your witness to God’s presence in your life. Sharing may include offering to teach someone to pray, if that is a desire they reveal to you. It may consist of sharing Scripture, if they want to know God’s stories and promises in the Word. It may mean introducing them to others, if community is a deep need in their life. Pope Francis offers a reminder that “We cannot choose between doctrine and activism. We are called to carry out God’s work in God’s own way: in closeness, by cleaving to him, in communion with one another, alongside our brothers and sisters.” (Pope Francis Mass Homily, 28 October 2018) Our openness to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit acting through us is strengthened by our willingness to truly serve another. In openly sharing with others, we reflect the intimacy that Christ has in our life and desires with them as well. This type of sharing is deeply human, and although it requires some vulnerability, it should be an occasion that strengthens relationships and trust.
Shamar men of Fire!! Answer the call!!!