“Therefore, any brother who, by divine inspiration, desires to go among the Saracens and other unbelievers should go with the permission of his minister and servant…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 (1 Pet 2:13) and to acknowledge that they are Christians. Another way is to proclaim the word of God when they see that it pleases the Lord, so that they believe in the all-powerful God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-the Creator of all, in the Son Who is the Redeemer and Savior, and that they be baptized and become Christians; because whoever has not been born again of water and the Holy Spirit cannot enter into the Kingdom of God (cf. Jn 3:5). (The Early Rule of the Order Friars Minor; Chap XVI: 2-3, 5-7)The
Today, June 30th, the Catholic Church remembers Blessed Ramon Lull, who was a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. He was born in 1232 AD, on the island of Majorca. He was extremely well-educated and served in various royal courts on the Iberian Peninsula. After listening to a sermon that touched his heart, he earnestly strived to live the Gospel life as a Secular Franciscan. He promoted missionary work among the peoples of North Africa; working to establish mission colleges, where missionaries could learn Arabic. He firmly believed that the way to bring non-believers to Christ was not with the sword, but through prayer and dialogue. He took time away from his college building efforts, and lived the life of a hermit for nine years. During this time, he produced a substantial amount of spiritual and philosophical works. In 1314, at age seventy-nine, he went to North Africa, to be a missionary himself. There he encountered a mob of hostile Muslims, who stoned him, and mortally injured him. Some merchants were able to get him on a ship bound for Europe. He did in 1315.
Francis of Assisi once described himself as a herald of the Great King, Jesus Christ. He encouraged his brother friars to go out and preach about the love of God, to all they came in contact with, believer and non-believer alike. But he also wanted their words to be backed up by their actions; by their works of charity, and showing respect to all they came in contact with. In the first draft of the Order’s Rule (Regula Non Bullata), he describes the two ways his friars were to evangelize, by way of life, or open proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Catholic Church, and especially the Church here in the Archdiocese of Boston, are being called to engage in a New Evangelization. One way of evangelization is live our lives as believers of the Good News; as those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This relationship should color how we interact with others, in our families, our workplaces, and in the marketplace. The other is to never be shy about sharing what our personal encounter with Christ has meant for us; what it has changed in us. We share our struggles with our faith; we share the joys of our faith. And we have the courage to invent others to come and see.
Evangelization is something God is calling us to be involved in, in our world today; right now, right here. We are all called to be heralds of the Great King!