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Shine Light on the Gentiles

September 25, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013, Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Ezra 1:1-6. Those who are any part of God’s people, let them go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.
Luke 8:16-18. A lamp is placed on a lampstand so that those who may enter may see the
light.

Gospel Reflection:

Praise be to Jesus Christ! For evermore!

When I was younger, my family and two others went to Lake Shasta for summer vacation. It was a kid’s paradise: houseboat, swimming & waterskiing all day; just relaxing in the sun. What could be bad? Except, we were teenagers, and invariably, after a week of this, we finally, collectively, said, ‘There’s nothing to do!’

So one of the dad’s took us to the Shasta Caverns and signed us up for the special spelunking tour – the one that went off the beaten path of the regular tour. And we were in luck: our guide was excited to see what we could do. So exploring we went, and down we crawled.

We got to the very bowels of the cavern, and ended up in a small cave. Our guide told us to douse our head lamps, and to wait for our eyes to try to adjust. He asked us if we thought this was total darkness, to which we agreed: you could not see the fingers in front of your own eyes. We then turned on our lights, and he showed us a cherry pit – something he had dropped from a snack – at the cave floor. Here in the absence of all light, beyond all hope, the seed had sprouted anyway, and grown to 4 inches. We were amazed then, as I am still amazed – I haven’t thought much of that story in over 35 years. Until I prayed about today’s Gospel.

In Lumen Gentium, Pope Paul VI declared, “those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.” We as Christians must be there to assist in all ways possible. The love of the Creator shines through the darkness, as the Light of Nations, all nations. God’s love is imprinted on all hearts, and is awaiting discovery.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has made some headlines in recent weeks, that many people abuzz in speculation. I was riding the MAX the other evening, praying a Rosary, when a stranger guessed ‘Catholic’ and interrupted me. What did I think about all of this? I smiled as best I could with two-and-a-half decades left, and gathered my grace and thoughts. I responded, ‘that many people – especially in the secular world – take what was said to fit their designs. What I believe the Holy Father was telling us – and many media types misunderstand – was that, frequently, we concentrate on this sin is bad, and we need to do this about those sinners and we need to reform this or that law, which indeed is in line with what the church teaches, certainly, but what we should focus more on is loving this person, and showing mercy to that person as God would. How would Christ love them? How would Christ show mercy? Would he exclude any from his love? If we did this, primarily, this Light shining in the world would not just change this country, it would change the world. Ah, it’s difficult. But if we all try individually, then our community of individuals can make things happen…

In today’s Gospel, Luke tells of the lamp that is to shed its light on the Gentiles who are entering the kingdom. We are encouraged to continue to be receptive to the word of God, and importantly – urgently – keep looking for signs of life – and hope – in the world. We are standing at the brink of uncertain times in our world. Do we vote this way, or that? Do we retain our Constitutional, religious rights, or are they denounced and devalued? Will we lose our homes, or jobs, or future in these difficult times? Will the left and right continue to fight and draw further apart, or will reason and necessity draw us together? Persecution? Martyrdom?

The Church has no other meaning and finality than to witness Jesus. May we not forget this.

One never knows these things. And so we do what we can do. This morning, on Twitter, Pope Francis tweeted, “The Church has no other meaning and finality than to witness Jesus. May we not forget this.” Continue to proclaim Christ the Light of the world, continue to help others draw closer to hope, go out from here and announce the Gospel, be the Gospel. Even in the darkness there is life.

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