Taken from a homily on Luke 5:1-11, given on the 14th of April, 2013:
The proclamation made by Peter and the Apostles does not merely consist of words: fidelity to Christ affects their whole lives, which are changed, given a new direction, and it is through their lives that they bear witness to the faith and to the proclamation of Christ… This applies to everyone: we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel. We should all ask ourselves: “How do I bear witness to Christ through my faith? Do I have the courage of Peter and the other Apostles, to think, to choose and to live as a Christian, obedient to God?”
To be sure, the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the “hidden” saints, a sort of “middle class of holiness”… to which we can all belong.
But in different parts of the world, there are also those who suffer, like Peter and the Apostles, on account of the Gospel; there are those who give their lives in order to remain faithful to Christ by means of a witness marked by the shedding of their blood. Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! I am thinking now of some advice that Saint Francis of Assisi gave his brothers: “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.”
*N.B. Just for the sake of accuracy, the quotation given at the end, whilst commonly attributed to St. Francis, was never actually recorded as having been said by him. However, it does encapsulate the Franciscan spirit perfectly, and certainly falls into the category of ‘the sort of thing he would have said’! Furthermore, there is a written source that pretty much says the same thing, namely the eleventh part of the Rule of 1221, most definitely written by St. Francis himself. Anyway, I digress, the Holy Father’s point stands – put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a catch!