In this week’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples think they’re doing Him a favour by preventing a man who wasn’t considered one of Jesus’ followers from performing a deed of power in His name. And though the disciples are sincerely trying to protect Him from possible scandal, Jesus understands that our actions speak volumes about whose side we’re really on.
For us today, as in Jesus’ day, it’s less about what we say with our words and more about what we say with our lives, how we live and conduct ourselves. If we say we are Christians, what does that mean? Is it mere sentiment, or are we really trying to imitate Jesus in all we say and do, as hard as that may seem? Can we cut away or pluck out those habits and attitudes that continue to trip us up and cause division within us? Or, will we try to hedge our bets, to keep one foot in each camp, never really knowing who we are or what we stand for? The risk, then, is not only to ourselves, but to those we may cause to stumble by our poor example, by our insincerity and the disconnect between our words and actions. If we say one thing but do another, then not only are our words hollow, but our faith is as well.
We are called to be authentic witnesses in an increasingly skeptical and weary world. But it’s not always easy to stand for truth when the world says that it doesn’t exist. If the Gospel is to be credible, it has to be lived. Perhaps one of the best ways we can do this is to heed the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.”
– Kelley Holy