In a world that seems to be moving away from Gospel values, a 13th century man named Francis presents us with two ways that help us make known the Good News of Jesus Christ. In Chapter XVI of the Earlier Rule he writes:

As for the brothers who go, they can live spiritually among the Saracens and nonbelievers in two ways. One way is not to engage in arguments or disputes but to be subject to every human creature for God’s sake and to acknowledge that they are Christians. The other way is to announce the Word of God, when they see it pleases the Lord, in order that [unbelievers] may believe in almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.[1]

 In the first way, Francis invites us to present ourselves as ambassadors of Peace, as lambs, before those who do not profess the same faith as we do. Certainly, faith impels us to go out of ourselves to encounter the other and then communicate our faith. St. Francis invites us to communicate the Good News of the Gospel not by embarking on crusades, but by being “subject to every human creature for God’s sake,” without hiding the fact that we are Christians. Today, eight hundred years later, the Poverello of Assisi invites us to encounter others in peace, because it is through peace and humility that minds and hearts are won. Pope Francis says:

Faith is social, it is for everyone. “Go into the whole world; proclaim the Good News to every creature” (Mk 16:15). This does not mean becoming someone who proselytizes, as if you were recruiting people to a football team or to a non-profit organisation. It means that you show the revelation, so that the Holy Spirit might work in people through witness: as a witness, with service. Service is a way of life. If I say that I am a Christian, but I live like a pagan, that doesn’t work, that doesn’t convince anyone. If I say that I am a Christian, and I live like a Christian, this attracts. It is witness [2]

The second way St. Francis proposes requires spiritual maturity on the part of the missionary disciple, because he must discern “when they see it pleases the Lord” in order to proclaim the word. The when and the how is very important in thinking about our mission, our proclamation and our “sharing of the faith.”
What about us? How do we relate to those who do not believe? What witness of faith are we giving to the world today? After eight hundred years, does our missionary spirit still burn with the kind of fire that urges us to go outside of ourselves in order to make the Good News of the Gospel known to others? Or have we extinguished that flame by remaining closed and staying comfortable inside our comfort zones?

Until the next reflection, my dear reader.


Friar Elio J. ROJAS

[1] Earlier Rule XVI, 5-7; FF 43.
[2] Cf. Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis, Saturday, April 25, 2020, from the Chapel of Saint Martha’s House,