This is what Jesus tells his disciples in today’s Gospel: “Whoever listens to you listens to me.”
What we need to ask ourselves is: what are we asking people to listen to? Hopefully more than our words. The CDF’s Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization that was issued toward the end of last year, emphasizes that evangelization is about proclaiming Jesus in all we say and do, not just about teaching doctrine. Indeed, preaching doctrine without making “oneself an instrument of [Christ]’s presence and action in the world” is incomplete and not likely to bear fruit:
Evangelization is not only accomplished through public preachign of the Gospel nor solely through works of public relevance, but also by means of personal witness which is always very effective in spreading the Gospel…In transmitting the Gospel, word and witness of life go together.
Although we sometimes quip, “Do what I say not what I do,” we know full well that it is what we do – who we are in the world – that is what people most listen to. So, in the words of St. Francis (about whom I’ll have more to say tomorrow on his feast day), “Preach the Gospel; use words if necessary.”