Let us be seen up close

We convey more with what we do than with what we say. Although this is well known, we still pay more attention to appearances than to facts. Believers – and in general those who try to live coherently – are closely and carefully observed by others, and sometimes even scrutinised. This requires us to take care also of our external façade.

Only example transmits and spreads. Albert Einstein said that “setting an example is not the main way to influence others; it is the only way“. There is no true education if theory is not accompanied by coherent actions and if words are not translated into deeds. Values are transmitted by contagion. Coherence is our only tool to be credible.

A person cannot be invited to become a Christian if he or she does not see real Christians who are passionate about Christ. Nor can we induce others to ask the deeper questions if they fail to see how fundamental faith is to our lives. We will not gain sympathisers if our lifestyle is ambiguous.

Example is a lesson that all men can read” testified Morris West. To be credible you must be transparent. When there is a perceived contradiction between what someone says and what they do, others will feel cheated. But it is not so difficult to be a true disciple-missionary today. It is not about sympathy or communication skills or knowledge. The main thing that is required is congruence.

A famous pedagogical principle, almost an axiom, states that children do not obey, but imitate. Learning takes place by mimesis, by imitation of a reference model. In the past as in the present, we learn by emulation, by observing an exemplary prototype and reproducing, in our own way, his gestures, words and attitudes.

Christian witness is governed by this principle. It is a continuum of movements, a chain of actions, words, reactions, apparently isolated and separate, but forming a unity of attractive and valuable meaning.

Evangelisation is an educational process and not a one-off act. It takes place in the encounter, in the contact between a Christian and another person, between someone who transmits the Gospel and another who, feeling challenged, welcomes it. In this way, they are ready to get to know what they do not yet know and to enter into the territory of the Gospel. Without a way out and an encounter, no evangelisation is possible. Exemplarity and the culture of encounter are its two foundations. So let us be seen. And let us be seen to be close.


Juan Carlos cmf

(PHOTO: Vince Fleming)


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