Everyone is meant to evangelize … to share the good news of the Gospel. This means me. This means you. Being now in my 80th year of life and 62nd year of religious life, I no longer serve in the very active ministries of teaching, pastoral care and parish ministry, but there is no lessening of my need to both evangelize and to be evangelized. The great commandments of love of God and of neighbor and the great commission of going out to the world to preach are for all of us.
As a Sister of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, our Franciscan Rule calls us to constantly be converted to the Gospel. Our rule begins, “The form of life of the Brothers and Sisters is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience, in poverty and in chastity.” The second article states, “They wish to live this evangelical conversion of life in a spirit of prayer, of poverty, and of humility.”
So how do I evangelize? Since I meet people everywhere, I see an increasing interplay of the Gospel in the life of every man, woman and child. Who hasn’t been searching for something or someone like the woman who lost her coin or the dad whose son left and then returned after a life of waste? Who hasn’t agonized as Jesus did over Jerusalem or in His suffering at the end of His life? Who hasn’t been denied, abandoned or betrayed as Jesus with His own disciples? Who hasn’t been misunderstood by family or people in their hometown like the Nazareth community treated Jesus?
I try my best to live the Gospel within the convent and everywhere else I go, be it when meeting the store clerk, the mail carrier, the person on the bus or the sister across the table from me. I am certainly evangelized in the daily liturgy by the word of God and the Eucharist, and by our community prayer. And I am evangelized by the young students of Pacelli High School when they frequently attend Mass at our chapel and serve so reverently as ministers of the word, musicians, servers, greeters and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion. And I am evangelized by the elderly residents, including some of our sisters and family members, when I visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities. I see the kindness and patience of staff, the care of residents for one another and the faithful bearing of the cross of fraility and aging.
Do you remember the little hand game, when you intertwined your fingers and showed “Here is the Church, here is the steeple, open the doors and here are the people!”? Or perhaps you remember the poem: “I sought to hear the voice of God, and climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared, ‘Go down again, I dwell among the people’”?
Every morning I say a prayer that is based on a prayer by Mary Elizabeth Sumner. It sets my focus for the day and helps me see more clearly how God works in me and in all whom I encounter.
“Day by Day, Lord,
Let me touch as many lives as possible, for Thee.
And every life I touch, do Thou,
By Thy Spirit, quicken.
Whether by the life I live,
The prayers I breathe, Or the words I speak.
And all for Jesus Christ’s sake.
Everyone is meant to evangelize … to share the good news of the Gospel. This means me. This means you!
By Sister Carlene Blavat, Sisters of St. Joseph-Third Order of St. Francis