All nobility in the human spirit comes from God. Even an atheist can have a noble spirit though an atheist cannot know the source nor show gratitude for the gift. Jesus redeemed everybody, including the atheist. A noble atheist cannot deserve faith. However God can and does build on the foundation already in the atheist’s heart, elevating it to a new and divinely graced level. No one can predict when this change will take place.
In reaching out to those who do not believe as we do, we need to respect the conscience of people and the mystery of grace. We need great patience and continued good will, cultivating without force and loving without expecting immediate results. The same patience and good will are necessary in our outreach to people who are trapped in their sins and addictions. Among God’s great saints were many persons whom God cultivated for many years before they finally opened themselves to his invitation.
Give me a patient and kindly heart, Lord, so that I may be a fitting instrument of your loving outreach. Make me wise and understanding in my witness to you.