05 October 2015

TSSF Principles, Day 5

The First Aim of the Order To make our Lord known and loved everywhere
(5) The Order is founded on the conviction that Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of God; that true life has been made available to us through his Incarnation and Ministry; by his Cross and Resurrection; and by the sending of his Holy Spirit. Our Order believes that it is the commission of the church to make the gospel known to all, and therefore accepts the duty of bringing others to know Christ, and of praying and working for the coming of the Kingdom of God.
I have sometimes heard Tertiaries quoting approvingly the story about Francis telling his brothers to go out and spread the gospel, and if necessary they can use words.* This is taken to affirm what is sometimes called ‘lifestyle evangelism’, the idea that how we live can be a more authentic witness to the gospel than what say. Unfortunately this too easily becomes a cop out: we try to make our lifestyle a substitute for actually proclaiming the gospel. But the commission to ‘make the gospel known to all’ cannot mean less than evangelism in the sense of gossiping the gospel, of not being afraid to speak of our faith whenever it is appropriate to do so.

* This story seems to have originated in the 1990s and is probably based on a misunderstanding of Chapter 16 of Francis’s Regula non bullata, where he speaks of two ways for the brothers to live among the Saracens (i.e. Muslims), one of which 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’.

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