Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Everyday Witness

This morning as I was praying my breviary I came across the second reading for the Office of Readings and I  saw a connection with something Pope Francis said in his Sunday homily yesterday. Today St. Augustine tells us in one of his sermons that we should "make sure that your life does not contradict your words." He goes on to talk about making sure that our words and actions are consistent, that our faith is evident by the way we live: "If you desire to praise him, then live what you express. Live good lives, and you yourselves will be his praise."

In his homily yesterday, Pope Francis said that the "inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church's credibility."  Evangelization, in other words, depends upon the consistency between word and action.

We often think of evangelization as going door to door and engaging people in conversation about the faith. I like to say that Jesus called fishermen to be fishers of men, fishers of people, and the bait that they used was the witness of lives that attracted people to Jesus.  Every moment of life is precious.  Our lives may seem mundane and unimportant, but they aren't.  Every moment is an opportunity to grow in holiness and to witness to that holiness by the way we live.  Pope Francis spoke about this, calling it the "middle class of holiness" and offering the example of his namesake who called his followers to preach the Gospel and, if necessary, to use words.  Here's the exact quote:

"We should all ask ourselves: How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God? To be sure, the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the “hidden” saints, a sort of “middle class of holiness”, as a French author said, that “middle class of holiness” to which we can all belong. ... Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! I am thinking now of some advice that Saint Francis of Assisi gave his brothers: preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words. Preaching with your life, with your witness."

1 comment:

  1. Every single thing that I read from Pope Francis is just marvelous! His words really resonate within this ordinary life of mine. We are so blessed to have a Pope who understands common people, who is just a "regular guy" himself, yet who makes the aspiration to holiness seem so achievable! Thanks for this post Fr. Jim!