Down through history this experience of the apostles will be repeated over and over again as men and women seek to proclaim the Gospel truths whether they are welcomed or not. Many men and women were martyred for their faith as they proclaimed the Gospel in lands and among people who were hostile to the message. Even today there are many places in the world supposedly ‘off limits’ to the proclamation of the Gospel. The biggest problem with this is that in a certain sense, if we are Christian and living our faith, we are proclaiming the Gospel precisely through the way we live without having to say anything. St Francis of Assisi is reported to have once said to his brothers as he sent them out to preach, “Go and proclaim the Gospel; use words if you have to!”
One of the primary means of proclaiming the Gospel is through the witness of our lives. In fact, if the lived witness of the Gospel is not present then any words that are spoken, no matter how eloquent they may be, leave us open to the accusation of hypocrisy! The most powerful witness to the Gospel is always the life each Christian lives. When Christians publicly flout the teachings of the Church and Jesus we do untold damage to the effectiveness of our Gospel witness. It is not just a matter of our own salvation that we are speaking about here; we are also damaging the opportunity those who are not Christian have of seeing the Gospel in action in our lives. This can be a sobering thought particularly when we remember that it is our lives that Jesus is relying upon to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth!
The apostles refused to remain silent and so they should have done so. The question remaining is whether or not we will follow their lead today. Sometimes it is easier to remain silent about our faith and so not upset others. Would this have been the option Jesus or the apostles would have taken? I very much doubt it! Let us pray for the grace to be willing to speak the truth in season and out of season so that the name of God will be glorified as we proclaim it to the ends of the earth.
When was the last time I had to take a stand on an issue because of my faith in Christ? Did I do this without hesitation?
Lord Jesus, grant me the strength to always stand up for you and the truth you have revealed to me. May I always trust that you will provide me with the words to speak no matter what the situation may be.