Jesus insists today: “Your light must shine before men….” Is his light shining through us? Do the people we work with see a joyful radiance in our eyes, a deeper peace in the way we speak to them and the way we make decisions? Can they feel the radiance of the Holy Eucharist emanating from us, warming them in our tone of voice and brightening the room in our smile? Some of us are naturally extroverts, and some naturally introverts, but I’m speaking of a light everyone who knows God will not fail to express in their own way. To express this joy, we must try our best to recall our faith in God in every circumstance.
Years ago, before Travelocity and other online airline ticket sites, I was at a travel agent’s ticket counter. She was having a lot of trouble finding a flight, and I was growing agitated. My eyes narrowed, my lips compressed, my fingers started tapping on the counter. Then, by the grace of God, I remembered: it’s all in His hands. Relax. Trust. A little Mona Lisa smile crept into my face, and I became calm. She noticed it and said “you seem so at peace” as she tapped away at the computer. And I gave praise to God that his grace had come to me and overflowed. He had used me as an instrument of his peace. “Lord, make me a channel of your peace.” She relaxed as well, and in a few minutes found a flight. God was with us.
Jesus defines his disciples as “salt for the earth.” Can people taste Jesus in us? Can they savor goodness and truth and beauty in the way we run our businesses, in the way we interact with them on the bus or at the supermarket? It is not enough to just keep the faith—we must spread it. Jesus gives us his light and warmth at every Mass, in every prayer we make to him. It is for us to believe in his grace within us, and to summon that bit of courage to express it to others. The human body cannot survive without salt and light, and the social order cannot survive without the Christian witness. Our culture becomes less than human, and we ourselves become dehumanized, without the savor and brightness of Christ and his Christians.
The Law of the Gift
Last week we had a little parish stewardship retreat, and I was convicted by something the speaker said on Saturday afternoon. She said “if you want peace, give peace.” St. John Paul called this the Law of the Gift: we attain wealth to the degree that we give wealth away. Sound irrational? Not really, because everything we have has come from God, and it’s all going back to him. God’s gifts only function when given away. He clearly states that in our first reading, from Isaiah 58: “Thus says the Lord: share your bread with the hungry, and do not turn your back on your own: then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound be quickly healed.” God has given us everything, but our first instinct, as wounded by original sin, is to hoard. We keep every last crumb tightly to ourselves. But if we can summon the courage to pry open our hands, to give even just a little, then the floodgates open. “If you share your bread, then your light will shine, and your wound be healed.” So if you want joy in your life, give joy. If you want peace, give peace. If you need help, give help, and what you first give you will always later receive.
Liberal or Conservative?
Some people call Christians liberals (who like to change things) and some call them conservative (who like to preserve things). Notice that salt both changes food (flavors it) and preserves it from changing (from decaying). A good liberal throws out what is rotten and a good conservative preserves what is healthy. Christian witnesses must both conserve the good and freely reform the bad. A flavorless, dim Christianity is not only unfaithful to Christ, but disastrous for the world. Weak Christian witnesses, for example, permitted the Nazi holocaust in Christian Europe. Weak Christian witnesses are permitting the abortion holocaust in Christian America today. I cannot say how you must witness to the Gospel in your private and public life, but you must give witness, as the Holy Spirit gives us utterance, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Let them taste Christ in you! May the Blessed Mother guide us in faithfully witnessing to her Divine Son, through her spouse the Holy Spirit, in obedience to her Eternal Father.