February 5, 2023: Your light must shine before others

We cannot get away from God, because as a very fundamental experience of being and existing, God exists in each one of us, as a fundamental human incarnation.

As I have said often, if God does not exist in us, we cease to exist.  St. Paul described this so well when he spoke and debated with the philosophers and leaders in the Areopagus, in Athens, Greece.

“God does not make his home in shrines made by human hands… It is He who gives everything, including life and breath to everyone… It is in him that we live and move, and exist.” (Acts 17:24-28)

That is why Jesus can tell us today that “we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”  As was He, so are we.

The experience and the process of becoming a true and full follower of Jesus expresses our true identity to “let our light shine before others,” that everyone may see our true identity – and [therefore] Jesus says, glorify his Father.

We do not go around blowing our Jesus horn in a pride-filled way.  It is not about who we are or what we do or how perfect a Christian we are.  We go around being who we are and doing what we do because Jesus is living within us, motivating us, inspiring us and accomplishing what we accomplish complementing God for his living, working, active presence in us.

When we do a ministry in the life of the Church, we may be drawn because we have a certain gift or ability or a desire to help, and we may have gifts that will draw others to help, or gifts that can help organize and bring effective results and we may even enjoy helping do something good for others.

But, there is a big “but.”  We do not do “good” to develop our selves’ pride, we do “good” because the loving spirit of God in us inspires us to do what is good, to offer our time and talents.

Here’s the insight of today’s gospel.  It is God who dwells within the confines of our life and personality, and is speaking to our hearts “to help”, “to do something good for others,” to let his presence reach others through our words and actions.

It is not me or you who does good.  It is God in you or me doing good.  We are like a dwelling place.  We are like a medium.  We are like a partner with God.

St. Paul reminds us today that he began speaking about Jesus to others in a timid way.  He spoke about his own experience he tells us in the Acts of the Apostles “I came to you, Corinthians, he says “in weakness and fear and much trembling.  He tells us also that he did [not] feel prepared nor did he speak very well, but he also tells us that Jesus used him and that Jesus’ spirit moved out of him to touch others.  St. Paul described it as “persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that our faith might not rest on human wisdom but on the power of God.”

Our first reaction to Jesus’ invitation to “let our light shine” is nervousness because we don’t think that we have anything really to offer.  

What we have to offer is God’s amazing powerful and loving presence to offer, through our caring, through our simple help and support.  Whatever helpful words or actions are more powerful than we imagine.  We may not think very much about our little bit of goodness and light, but God does.

“Just so, your light must shine before others.”  We need to get out of ourselves, Jesus suggests, Jesus invites.  A smile may be a first step; a kind word, a second; a desire to help, a third; a phone call, a fourth; to be a volunteer, a fifth; praying for good to happen, a sixth; an illumination, I do have myself to share.

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