11 Misiones: Plus Verbis Factis - Eddy D'Sa

posted Oct 16, 2018, 10:37 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 16, 2018, 10:37 AM ]
Our generation has made social justice the focus of Missions. But have we forgotten Jesus? Taking a look at the trends in Christian Missions in recent years—most notably the shift among younger missionaries from proselytising and preaching to doing more service and social justice-oriented work as Mission. A shift in focus from words to deeds. We sometimes tend to now hold the term "missionary" at arm's length, afraid of the colonialist connotations of the word. We prefer being involved in "social justice" under the auspices of a more generalised Christian sense of charity, rather than operating under anything resembling "soul winning." One even hears the explanation: "We believe in Christ, but do NOT want to limit ourselves in any way." Spreading Christianity through deeds alone aligns with a quote attributed to St Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." But here's the fact: Our good Francis never said such a thing. None of his disciples, early or later biographers have these words coming from his mouth. It doesn't show up in any of his writings. The closest comes from his Franciscan Rule of 1221, Chapter XII on how the Franciscans should practise their preaching : "No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister … All the Friars … should preach by their deeds." Essentially, make sure your deeds match your words. The trouble with this preach/practice dichotomy of preaching the Gospel in deed—it's simply impossible to preach the Gospel without words. The Gospel is inherently verbal, and preaching the Gospel is inherently verbal behaviour.