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Pope St. Paul VI said in his great document on evangelization (Evangelii nuntiandi) that "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses."
Jesus knew that the scribes and Pharisees were good teachers of the Law, but they were terrible witnesses. They led lives that did not draw others to God’s presence. So, Jesus, speaking about the scribes and Pharisees, said to his disciples, “Do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.”
Of course, every priest, deacon, or lay Church leader must make a good examination of their own conscience when they hear Jesus speak against the religious leaders of his time. We all know religious leaders of prominence who fell far short of the mark they set for others.
But, we are all preachers, not just the clergy who preach homilies. We preach Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, by the witness of our lives. Parents witness Jesus to their children. Catholics witness their faith to their neighbors. Bosses witness the Gospel to their employees.
And make no mistake, people are not only watching their pastors, they are also watching anyone who claims to be Christian. How we live our lives will tell others about how much Jesus means to us. We all preach to others by the witness of our lives.
May we practice what we preach.
Ask yourself, “Is there anything that I do that leads people away from Jesus. And what is it that I do that leads people to him?”