The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"You are the light of the world..."

In the midst of all the chaos that plagues our world, it's easy to forget what we, as Christians, have been called to do. Certainly we are called to fulfill the Church's innermost mission, the adoration of the triune God. But Jesus, in His final instructions to His disciples, the nascent Church, clearly stated:

"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." [Mt 28:18-20]
In other words, we are also called to carry out the Church's external mission, the evangelization of all the world. These two missions, the adoration of God and the evangelization of peoples, mirror the two great commandments that Jesus affirmed when asked by a "scholar of the law", "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" Jesus' response...
"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." [Mt 22:37-39]
What greater love can one show for one's neighbor than to share with him the Good News of Jesus Christ, the "words of eternal life." Evangelization, then, is one means, perhaps the most important means, to the fulfillment of second of the great commandments.

And so Jesus, reinforcing this mission of evangelization in the Gospel passage of today's liturgy, tells His disciples (and us):

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” [Mt 5:13-16]
The light of the world...What a beautiful metaphor for today's Christians, that we can actually illuminate the world, drive away the darkness, and bring others to "the Way, the Truth and the Life." And we can do so through our deeds, our good deeds, that by these actions we will glorify God the Father and allow Him, the Source of all Light, to shine before others, drawing them to Him.

I think sometimes we believe that we have to do great things in the world to make a difference, that because most of us live our lives far from the spotlight of global events, we have little or no influence on what happens in the world. And yet Jesus is telling us just the opposite.

Keep the faith in humility, He tells us, and just like salt, that humblest of all seasonings, you will transform all that you come into contact with. The salt of the earth, the light of the world, this is what we are, this is what we are all called to be: lovers of God, lovers of our neighbor. We need not worry about the results, for God will take care of that. We need only follow the advice of His Blessed Mother, who at Cana, said, "Do whatever He tells you."

Pray for peace and the conversion of the entire world.

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