First “Jesus”, then “prayer” — let us think of God holding us by the hand. Then I would like to draw attention to this element: letting ourselves be led by him. This is more important than any calculation. We are true evangelizers when we let him guide us. Think of Peter; perhaps he was having a snooze when he had a vision, the vision of the sheet with all the animals, and he heard Jesus telling him something that he did not understand. At that moment some non-Jews came to call him to go to a certain house and he saw that the Holy Spirit was there.
Peter let Jesus guide him to that first evangelization of the Gentiles, who were not Jews, something inconceivable at the time (cf. Acts 10:9-33). So it has been, throughout history, throughout history! Letting ourselves be led by Jesus. He is our leader, our leader is Jesus.
And the third word: witness. Jesus, prayer – prayer, letting ourselves be led by him – and then witness. But I would like to add something. Letting oneself be led by Jesus leads to the surprises of Jesus. We might think we should work out programmes of evangelization carefully, thinking of strategies and making plans, but these are only tools, small tools. What matters is Jesus and letting ourselves be led by him. We can then plot our strategies but this is secondary.
Finally, witness: faith can only be communicated through witness, and that means love. Not with our own ideas but with the Gospel, lived out in our own lives and brought to life within us by the Holy Spirit. There is, as it were, a synergy between us and the Holy Spirit, and this leads to witness. The Church is carried forward by the Saints, who are the very ones who bear this witness. As both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said, today’s world stands in great need of witnesses, not so much of teachers but rather of witnesses. It’s not so much about speaking, but rather speaking with our whole lives: living consistently, the very consistency of our lives! This consistency means living Christianity as an encounter with Jesus that brings me to others, not just as a social label. In terms of society, this is how we are, we are Christians closed in on ourselves. No, not this! Witness is what counts!
Pope Francis, Pentecost Vigil with Ecclesial Movements, May 18, 2013
Reflection – As we read through this Q and A session—and the whole thing is so good, I want to spend the next few days continuing to read through it—it is important to read it carefully and thoughtfully. Pope Francis has such a simple direct vigorous style, and that is ‘all kinds of wonderful,’ for obvious reasons. What pope has ever talked about Peter having a snooze? But there is a hidden peril of such a style, which is that we can read him too quickly and too easily. Well, what he’s saying is so obvious! And we pass over it perhaps a bit too glibly.
In fact there is tremendous depth here, and a tremendous revolutionary force, a power that transforms the whole of our life, if we let it. This whole business of the intense dialogue, the synergy between the Holy Spirit and ourselves, the whole relativizing of programs and strategies as a very small matter indeed, the whole business of Christianity being a consistent way of life that draws us out of ourselves towards others—all of this is not to be quickly read and then ‘OK, got it! Let’s click to the next item in the Facebook news feed!’
The movement and unity of Jesus-prayer-witness is utterly important. Without Jesus as the absolute center of our lives, we have absolutely nothing to offer people. Without prayer, we cannot let ourselves be led by Jesus to ‘the Gentiles’ in the deepest sense of that word. Without witness, there is something fundamentally off in our prayerful listening to Jesus, as it is the very nature of his life in us to bring us to bear witness to Him.
In our Twitter and Facebook world, where everything is information and all information is broken down into more and more atomized chunks, this kind of nuanced presentation—still simple and vigorous, mind you!—risks being lost in the binary static of the digital age. So, lest I strain the fractured attention spans of my readers any further, I will sign off for today, but I encourage us all, especially in this feast of Corpus Christi tomorrow when the Pope has asked us all to unite in Adoration with him at 5 p.m, Italian time (11 a.m. here in Ontario), to simply stop and be with Jesus today, tomorrow, every day. To let Jesus lead us in prayer to the witness he is asking of us, so that the Gospel may be proclaimed in every land and nation.