Our faith is really so simple. Sure, there are traditions and rules, regulations and rituals that we follow because they are meant to keep us focused. Every human society and organization that, like the Church, has a history, has them.

But the real center of our faith is personal: a divine person, not just a series of do’s and don’ts.

Jesus asks only two things of his disciples. He wants us to accept and to believe that God loves us — to bask joyfully in that life-changing reality — and then to share that good news, in some way, with everyone we encounter.

What is true for each believer is true for everyone else who will accept that truth: Jesus is Lord, our personal Savior. He is also the Savior of the world.

These are the two key proclamations of the Christian faith, pillars of every disciple’s faith, if it is to be a living faith and not just another catalogue of traditions and rules, regulations and rituals.

It is also what makes our Catholic faith unique among all the world’s religions.  

The truths that flow from that one truth — that God so loved this sinful world that he sent his only Son, the Word Incarnate, into the world to be our Savior, so that the world might not be condemned but saved (cf. Jn 3:16) — are many. Such an action of divine mercy has tremendous consequences that unfold in the life of every believer, and in the community of faith who believe it.

You can read about all of these rich and wonderful mysteries in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s better, however, to begin by experiencing them and living the reality each day of what it is like to be bathed in love and called to holiness.

Holiness — or a purity of life in which all the pieces of our humanity come together, holistically — is the result of being loved by a God of infinite mercy and forgiveness.

It is a mistake to think the Apostles and the greatest saints were somehow superhuman and possessed inherent spiritual talents that set them apart from each of us. What we read in the New Testament and in the struggles throughout the lives of the saints hardly permits us to conclude this.

In fact, sometimes it is the limitations of humanity — theirs and ours — that serves as an antidote to great pride and spiritual laziness. The fact that we need to wrestle with temptations and various idols or false gods invites us to turn to the Lord and to be patient with the faults of others, and with the lack of gratitude that may harbor resentment in us.

If only we could seriously take to heart the words of Jesus: “It is not you who have chosen me; it is I who have chosen you” (cf. Jn 15:16).

This is the truth, the first truth of our faith. The more we take it to heart, the more we can keep turning everything over to Jesus: our cares and fears, our doubts and anxieties, our hurts, angers and frustrations.

The more we do this, the more his peace reigns in our hearts and souls. The less we fear the judgments and opinions of others, the less we need to compare ourselves to, let alone try to be, anyone else. Jesus is our one and only judge, the only one to tell us who we are, and his judgment is that we should be saved — if we let him be our Savior.

The second truth of our faith is actually a commission, a task we have to do in the world: to bring this truth to everyone we encounter.

That may seem very difficult: everyone? Well, Jesus did command us, after all — it is not optional — to go into the world and tell this good news (Mt 28:16).

This is the great commission. If we do not do this, the faith will dry up inside us and we will not grow in our relationship with the Lord, because we are not trusting him to live and work through us in the world. We are not acting as though we really trust him and believe that he has chosen us as he said.

This is not as difficult as it might seem.

A priest friend of mine and I were conversing recently about the task of evangelizing, of sharing the good news with others. He related a recent experience: After Mass each Sunday, he does not just race into the sacristy, but takes time to chat with people as they leave the church or enter for the next Mass.

One Sunday, he noticed a woman he had not seen before. He approached her and asked if she was new in the neighborhood. She said that this was the first time she was attending Mass at this parish. He asked her where she was from. She said she was born in one of the Caribbean islands and was here to take care of her nephew.

One might imagine a longer story, but he did not go further. He just wanted her to feel welcome this Sunday. That was all.

The next week, he noticed her again after Mass, and they exchanged smiles. He said he was glad to see her back again. Then she surprised him completely: She said she was thinking it was time for her to “become a Catholic.” He had assumed she was already Catholic, but, apparently, she had only been baptized.

He was eager to advise her on the next step: becoming engaged in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process, through which people receive further sacraments like First Eucharist and confirmation.

But, before doing that, he wanted to know what prompted her to take this next step. He asked the woman what led her to this decision. She said she had been thinking about it for a long, long time. Actually, my friend learned, she had been in the neighborhood for some time and had attended many churches in the vicinity.

Why did she decide to approach him, he wondered, and so he asked her. Her reply astounded him: She said, among all the churches she had visited, he was the first person to actually notice her!

Need more be said? You may be the only Jesus that some person may ever know! Sharing the good news of God’s love — which is really what evangelization means — might be as simple as noticing a stranger and welcoming them.

It might change a life.

(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)