St. Francis of Assisi is credited with saying, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” I was curious as to how many words the average human being speaks in a day. While searching online, I found that the average is between 15,000- 16,000. That would be a little less than 1,000 words per hour. The range from least to most was significant (795 words compared to 47,000 words!). A teacher would certainly speak more words in a day than a monk!
What does it mean to “preach the gospel?” Does it mean to use words to convey the meaning of how God or our higher power wants us to live? The word “gospel” comes from the Greek, evangelion, which means “good news.” We are told to publicly proclaim or teach the good news, but in a way that doesn’t use words. Almost like playing charades! All you can use are gestures and actions. What does the good news look like then?
It would be an interesting world if instead of standing in a pulpit and speaking thousands of words we took that proclamation to the streets, our workplaces, Starbucks, Wegmans, the doctor’s office, the school, the hospital, and our home. What if we spoke less and lived more? What if the good news was something that was given from our hands rather than our mouths?
Or better yet, what if all 15,000-16,000 of our words matched all of our actions? Instead of substituting one for the other, why can’t we do both and let the gospel be preached by word AND action? Do our words align with our actions, and do our actions align with our words? What a world it would be if our thousands of good news words were matched by thousands of good news actions!
Mother Teresa is quoted to have said, “Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” How much light are our words and actions giving the world?