In the first chapter of Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis tell us “we need to remember that all religious teaching ultimately has to be reflected in the teacher’s way of life, which awakens the assent of the heart by its nearness, love and witness.”1 This is an important concept that Pope Francis touches on - our way of life is perhaps the first evangelization that many people will witness, and if it falls short of the words we say, our way of life may also be the last thing they are willing to “hear” also.
If you have followed Pope Francis throughout the first year of his pontificate, you might have picked up that is he is leads by example. There are numerous occasions of Pope Francis’ actions presenting a living Gospel: when he washed the feet of incarcerated Christians, Muslims, Men and Women on Holy Thursday in a Roman jail, or one of the numerous times that he has embraced the sick, the lame or the disfigured or perhaps just his simplicity of life, opting to live in a simple hostel over the grand papal apartments. Pope Francis evangelizes first and foremost through his everyday actions.
Through his humble interactions and a life marked by simplicity, Pope Francis calls us to follow suit. He calls us to witness our faith in Jesus Christ by our way of life, our interactions with friends and family, as well as co-workers and strangers. If our lifestyle is antithetical to the Gospel, those who we attempt to evangelize will never hear the words we preach. In a sense, Pope Francis tells us that we must practice what we preach in order for the seeds of the Gospel to take root in the lives of those we witness to.