So the other day I ran across a tweet from Jaden Smith on the Catholic Memes FB page:
Accompanying it was this comment:
Jaden Smith out here being breathtakingly oblivious. Love it.
That’s tiny sample of how not to evangelize. The term for that comment is “smug”. They are the words of somebody who sees Catholic fellowship as a member of an in-group sitting at the Cool Kids Table and making fun of all the losers. It is language intended to communicate mockery and rejection to Smith and anybody who might dare to think like him.
Somebody interested in reaching out to non-Catholics would not expect a kid this age, raised with no contact with the Catholic tradition, to know our customs. They would understand he’s not “oblivious” as though he is wilfully ignoring Catholics. Nor is he stupid. Somebody interested in evangelism–in speaking the truth in love–would not be singling him out for mockery, because it is just counterproductive. He’s just never heard of the Friday Abstinence.
What you do in such a case is affirm what can be affirmed in common and “explain to him the way of God more adequately” as Priscilla and Aquila did with Apollos.
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully confuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. (Ac 18:24–28).
In the case of Smith and those like him, you say, “This seems like a good idea and it’s good of you to care enough about the common good to be willing to make this sacrifice. Well done! Funnily enough, it has been a custom among Catholics and other ancient Christian traditions to do the same thing on Fridays. It was established in order to put the burden of self-denial on the rich rather than the poor (since only the rich ate meat while the poor ate fish since it’s what they could get). You might be interested in what the Tradition has to say about our debt to the common good and to care for God’s creation. Have you ever read Laudato Si? It’s a beautiful document from Pope Francis on the care of our common home, the earth. Check it out.”