Preaching the Good News
St. Francis told his disciples, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”
Whenever, I hear a gospel like today’s I am reminded of these instructions from St Francis and usually I am brought up short. I often depend on my words to carry the message of my intentions, my hopes, and my challenges. I don’t think that I am alone in this pattern.
However, today Jesus gives us example after example of actions which speak to the core of the gospel message.
This message was one of my early lessons as a chaplain resident. I was with two other chaplains and a family who were taking their young son off of life support. They had engaged the best of medicine to fight leukemia. They had tremendous faith and were very grateful for prayer. Each of us had worked with this family during the child’s care at our hospital. Two of us were new chaplains and the other chaplain was both seasoned and wise.
As for me, I was green when it came to being with a family while a loved one was dying. In my efforts to fill in as God’s ambassador I filled the final minutes of that family’s presence with their sick child with words from the bible. The words weren’t bad words and in many ways they spoke exactly to what was happening. However in hindsight I learned from my mentor, that words aren’t necessarily the answer in the midst of the profound experience of death… Like the story of Elijah sitting at the mouth of the cave waiting for God, sometimes God speaks in silence and presence.
This week as I seek to live the gospel, I will remember the advice of St. Francis, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”