MOSAIC Spring 2016 - Page 29

ADVANCING THE NEW EVANGELIZATION Winning the World for the Sacred Heart of Jesus The Charity of Bread and Truth Peter Herbeck S t. Bonaventure, in his biography of St. Francis of Assisi, tells us that Francis “became a herald of the Gospel” because “he realized that he was sent by God to win for Christ the souls which the Devil was trying to snatch away.” With single-minded dedication and tremendous energy, “he went about the towns and villages, preaching the Kingdom of God ‘not in such words as human wisdom teaches, but in words taught him by the Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 2:13).” St. Francis was “a sharp sword all fested in the life of St. Francis. The charity on fire, zeal for the salvation of others of bread, exhibited in works of mercy, and pierced the depths of Francis’ heart in his the charity of truth, communicated through burning love.” According to Bonaventure, the preaching of the Gospel, are both esthis “was the reason he was so energetic sential. Francis cared for the physical and social needs of the poor and marginalized, in prayer, so active in preaching.” St. Bonaventure gives us an important but his deepest desire was to bring people insight into the heart of this great saint to Christ. In the words of St. Bonaventure, of mercy. St. Francis was pierced in the “Christ gave himself up to death for the saldepths of his heart with burning love and vation of others, and Francis desired to folzeal for the salvation of others. That love low in his footsteps to the last.” Pope Francis reminds us that we, the moved him to pray and to preach. baptized, are also sent St. Francis is an ideal model for us in this Ju“We need to recover by Jesus to preach the Gospel. As he writes in bilee Year of Mercy. He both expressions his apostolic exhortation is known well for the The Joy of the Gospel, extraordinary works of of mercy that were “Today, as the Church mercy that characterized so profoundly seeks to experience a his life, but not recogmanifested in the profound missionary renized for the passionnewal, there is a kind of ate way he went about life of St. Francis.” preaching which falls to preaching the Gospel. He prayed for long hours, many times in each of us as a daily responsibility. It has tears, for those who most needed to hear to do with bringing the Gospel to people the Gospel. He extended the mercy of God we meet, whether they are our neighbors or complete strangers” (no. 127). in both words and deeds. Pope Francis speaks as though bringing We need to recover both expressions of mercy that were so profoundly mani- the Gospel in words to our friends, neigh- bors, and non-believers is a normal part of the Christian life. But, in fact, speaking about Jesus to others is a rare experience for most Catholics in the United States. To some, Pope Francis’ words may seem a bit extreme, but he is simply echoing the words of the Second Vatican Council in its Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity: “An apostolate of this kind [lay apostolate] does not consist only the witness of one’s way of life; a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life” (no. 6). My prayer in this Year of Mercy is that all of us—clergy and laity, alike—will rediscover the preaching of the Gospel as the normal means by which we extend the mercy of Jesus to the world. Peter Herbeck substitutes for columnist Dr. Ralph Martin in this issue. He is vice president and director of missions for Renewal Ministries. Peter holds an MA in Theology from Sacred Heart. 27