Words AND Actions

A reading for Monday, September 8, 2014: John 10:19-30.

St. Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying, "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary use words." It's one of the quotes preachers learn to have ready and waiting for the right use...

There are two problems with this quote. The first is that Francis probably never said it, at least in this way. No historical evidence has ever been found with this quote from Francis. Second, it seems to set up a dichotomy between words and actions. Words about faith are not as good as action about faith?

Truth is, Francis is known to have said, "No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister … All the Friars … should preach by their deeds." This is different. What Francis actually said is to make sure our words match our actions and vice versa. We can't say one thing and do another...

In today's lesson from John, Jesus responds to the Jews that are asking if he is the Messiah. They want him simply to use words to answer the question. Jesus reminds them that his actions up to this point, in addition to the words he has said, both proclaim him to be Messiah already. They have missed it because they do not recognize the actions that go along with the words. "The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep."

Truth is, both are necessary... words AND actions. A preacher who doesn't act on the gospel is no better than a Christian who acts on the gospel but doesn't proclaim it. Both are required so that all the world might know the Messiah and give glory to God.

The reason we quote St. Francis of Assisi is not just because he did great acts of kindness and love, but also because he was a great preacher and proclaimer of the truth of Christ. Thanks to St. Francis for both words and actions.


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