The Gospel reading for this Sunday was Matthew 5:13-16:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
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.”
We had a great discussion on this topic at my Familia group on Saturday. I shared my recent experience with my Aunt Bea with the ladies. The kids and Aunt Bea (one day after her 99th birthday) and I were out to eat. The kids know that we pray before we eat, no matter where we are, and so we did. Sign of the Cross and all. When we were finished, Aunt Bea told me, "You know you don't have to do the Sign of the Cross in public."
I had simply replied, "I know. But it's part of my prayer. We are not ashamed."
Tonight at Mass, Father's homily was (as per his usual) well done. He touched on the fact that it is okay to make the sign of the cross in public. That it isn't "showy"...unless of course a person's intent was to be "showy" but there's nothing wrong with praying, even in a restaurant, before we eat. It's never wrong to pray anywhere. I really loved how he said this part:
Jesus says here, 'You are the light of the world.' He does NOT say, 'You are the light of the church.'
He went on to explain that it's all well and good that we are lights to each other at church and within our church walls and ministries. But we are called to be lights to the world. We need to shine before ALL, not just before other Catholics.
Father mentioned a few things "lights" could mean. Lights could be guideposts...for example the lights on the runway for the airplane to land. As lights to the world, we could be good examples of God's love for the world and following God's commands. Another example he used was that lights could be leading you somewhere. He spoke of the fact that in peer groups, it often only takes one voice to say, "Hey, that's wrong and I'm not doing that" and sometimes others follow. Of course not everyone is called to be a leader, some of us are called to be followers. But he asked us to reflect on whether God calls us to be leaders and what kind of leaders we are to be. Father made the point that there are all kinds of people out there that are leaders, but only a few worth following. A third example of what lights could be were warnings. He had some words for parents in this area. He mentioned that even though they might warn their child, of course the child could still choose to ignore that warning...but that does not exempt the parent from shining their light in the right direction anyway.
Finally, Father asked us all to pray this week about what kind of lights we are and can be in the world around us. Are we supposed to be leaders? Are we supposed to follow? If we are followers, we should pray about those whom we follow. We are to think and pray about our positions in our lives...the people God has put us in contact with, and how we are shining our light for them.
This gives me a lot to pray about. Lately, I have wondered just what the heck I am doing working where I do? What is the purpose when it seems that there is so much wrong with the place? The work environment is toxic. But perhaps this is my challenge, my charge from the Lord. I still must be Christ to all of the people at my workplace whether I agree with what they do or not. I must still perform my job duties with the intent to glorify God. I must still be the light of the world to those I come into contact with in my workplace.
My Sarah is also a leader. I believe she is someone worth following. I plan to follow up with her sometime this week just to see if she's taken any time in her prayer to reflect on how she is a light of the world at school, at her Challenge group, at basketball practice and in games. But also whether she's prayed about her role in our family, with her sisters and brother, with me and with her father.
I think that at different times and in different places, we are all leaders, followers, guideposts and warning lights. The trick is to be more intentional about shining our lights at those different times and places than bringing about the murky darkness.
And with all this talk about being a light to the world, I'm reminded of a song...
This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine!This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine!This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine!Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!