Last week, one of my friends asked me about my diaconate. She said, "Well Toni, do you tell them all about Jesus?" My friend's faith tradition is conservative and fundamentalist.
I paused before providing my answer, because the answer was going to be "no." But yet, I wasn't sure how to provide my reply in such a way that would be truthful and relevant.
I said to her, "No, I don't talk about Jesus, I try to reflect Jesus."
So for me, "this" is what it means to live a Gospel life; to reflect Jesus, and not merely talk about Jesus.
Sister Ilia offers her view, and possibly St. Francis' view about what living the gospel life means. For her, it means to reclaim and proclaim the "Gospel Life" in a new way, to embrace the humanity of Christ, to be prayerful, to be in a state of renewal, and to practice compassion by turning from "the self" toward "the relationship." We do this by recognizing ourself as a unique witness of God and by focusing on living a "relational" life, doing this by practicing dialogue, respect, listening, learning and mutuality.
Sister Ilia said, "What I am, is what I do." So the question remains, "What are you?" Sr. Ilia asks. She provides the answer, "We are one in whom God lives. We are the dwelling place of God's immense love."
So going back to my opening statement about reflecting Jesus to others... How is this really done in 21st century living when we are all very busy going to work, sitting in traffic, raising a family, going here, going there, doing chores, paying bills, and at the end of the day, sitting down after a meal tired from the hustle and bustle of life lived in an urbanized complex western society? Where do we find time to live "the Gospel life" when the kids are crying, the house needs to be cleaned, your spouse needs something, the pipe burst, and the snow needs to be shoveled?
The way we do this is to reflect Jesus in all that we do, in all of our mundane day to day humanity. We do our work, our jobs, our tasks, our giving, our home and life-making by seeing and doing it with great love, peacefulness, compassion, contemplation, and prayerfulness. We do it with gratitude for having those things, each and every thing, and we do it all with great love.
Love, which is the hallmark of relational living, speaks in many ways, through silent service, a smile, compassionate giving of self, and in enduring hardship gracefully.
We are reminded that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are Love, Joy, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. The fruits of the Spirit provide a way for us to live our lives so that we reflect Jesus and the Gospel life.
The "Gospel Life" then becomes a way of simply being, and that way of being reflects the fruits of the Spirit in each thing we undertake.
So to answer the question, "What are you?" And to that say, we are Love. We are Joy. We are Patience, Kindness and Goodness. We are Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. And this becomes the way in which we reflect Jesus, and live the Gospel life.
(Toni Kay wrote this reflection in response to Ilia Delio’s YouTube Video describing what it means to live the Gospel life in an age that is global, and plural, and scientific.)