“The Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message…” – Mark 16.15-20
Proclaiming the good news is the work of all Christians and a guiding principle that also shapes our Franciscan charism. Because all of us are baptized into the love of the Trinity we are called to share this love which is good news. We are to be heralds of hope, mercy, and faith, agents of love, joy and justice. It is one thing to speak the good news but the proclamation also means living it, embodying it and making the good news a way of life.
As Christians it is in the way we move from the Eucharistic table to the rest of our week. It is in how we announce the gospel, go in peace and glorify the Lord. It can’t just be with an “Amen” or “I believe…” or a “Lord have mercy” it has to be in how we live these words and in the actions of our lives. The gospel of Mark reminds us that the Lord worked with the disciples and as his followers he works with us too. As we hear and embody the good news we must also let it be the way we live. What do our actions say about Christ? What does the way I help a neighbour, focus on other, extended a welcoming hand and so on say about the way we live as Christians? Will they (the world) know we are Christians by our love (hope, joy, faith, mercy…) or will they only know it when they read our obituary?
As Franciscans the above mentioned challenges apply to us as well. Just because we put on a habit and take vows does not mean that we instantly have the good news imparted in us and live it out well. It takes time and effort. Our vows do orientate us to the good news. Our vow of poverty requires a deep trust in God that looks beyond this world, our vow of celibacy requires a living for others that is selfless and rooted in the love of Christ, our vow of obedience requires an openness and desire to work with others in preaching and living the good news. Our Franciscan way of “living the gospel” is one of simplicity but demands that we be attentive to the words of scripture and live them in our every day. It demands that in our fraternal living we are attentive to our brothers. It demands that our way of life be lived for all people and that we support those who are struggling to live the gospel or encounter it. It demands we be in solidarity with those working for justice and peace walking with them and taking up the work with them. It demands us to be life-giving.
In the conversion of St. Francis he heard Jesus speak to him saying, “Go rebuild my church.” St. Francis began by literally repairing churches and then shifted into living and preaching the good news in ways that eventually formed the Franciscan Order. I believe this a needed reminder for us, not that we need to begin new religious orders but rather how do we as Christians and also as the Franciscans review our gospel living? What are we doing already or what simple tasks can we do (or do better) that will bring the good news to life (will rebuild the church)? We have been empowered and Christ is working with us to preach and live the good news. I have myself pondering this for a while now and this passage from the gospel of Mark has been good pause for reflection. In the days ahead and with the empowerment that spirit of Pentecost calls us to may we be strengthen to share the good news; which like blood is in us to give!