God is amazing! On Wednesday when I picked up my kids from their school (a Christian school, not Catholic) I asked them what their new memory verse was this week. They couldn’t remember all of it (they are only 5) but the part they remembered was “You are the light of the world.” I knew immediately which verse it likely was and once we got home I looked it up and sure enough, it comes straight from this Sunday’s Gospel! How perfect. I was able to talk to them a little about the verse before they got distracted and ran off to play.
I love it when things coincide like that. We’ll review this a few times over the next few days and talk about it more and I hope to see them recognize it at Mass on Sunday. That’s also one of the reasons I love doing these lectio divina reflections every couple weeks or so. It’s so nice to have time to read, pray with the text, listen to God’s voice speaking to me through the text, responding back to God, and really resting in the words of the Gospel. And then, to have that experience in my head when I go to Mass and hear the Gospel proclaimed from the ambo really helps connect me to the Word. I hope you also get something out of this as well.
If this is your first time here, we will be reading and praying with the Gospel passage for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (click the link to get to the text). Have it open as you read along below and I encourage you to follow the steps of lectio divina yourself before reading my own responses to my headings below. This is prayer time for you as well, not just you reading my reflections. If you need a quick review of the lectio divina steps, I recommend this brief explanation from the Archabbey of St. Meinrad.
Don’t forget, I’d love to hear some of your own thoughts (what caught your attention, what you feel God is saying to you, etc.) in the comments below.
- Must shine before others
- See your good deeds
REFLECT: What is God saying to you?
Reading this passage again and again, the word “must” keeps pestering me. I don’t have a choice–that’s what God is telling me. As a person of faith it is imperative, necessary, my duty to bring Christ’s light to the world. But how do I do this?
There are some obvious answers to this, like volunteering in my community by serving at a local soup kitchen or helping at a Habitat for Humanity build or volunteering at a local pregnancy help center. All these things are great ways to be a light in the world. But I’m at a point right now in my life when doing these kinds of things is really difficult. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I could still do. Not at all!
There are numerous ways to shine our light before others. This has actually been on my mind some lately and I’ve been thinking more about how to get to know my neighbors better, at the very least being the friendly neighbor that smiles and waves in passing as we are all going about our days. Remaining calm and joyful in my vocation, especially out in public. You know those days when you have to run into the grocery store, the kids are hungry, and the toddler is throwing a tantrum in the grocery cart because you didn’t get the cart that he wanted? (Yep, this actually happened recently.) Keeping your cool and just getting the job done could be an amazing witness to someone. I try to always keep a smile on my face and not get overly frustrated with the kids as I’m shuffling them through stores or the library or the doctor’s office. I would hate for someone to see me flustered and think, “Yep, that’s why I’m not having kids” or “Wow, glad we are ‘done’!” I don’t pretend it’s easy, and we all know it’s not, but I can suffer through the trying times and still remain joyful in the vocation with which God has blessed me. I think it’s also important to realize that our families are also people that would benefit from us shining Christ’s light before them. We can’t forget them in all this. How we serve our husbands (or wives), how we treat them, and the respect we show them are all ways we are witnesses of Christ’s love. I have to remember that how I discipline my children should also be done with the love of Christ. My witness to them in how I act around them, how I train them up in the faith, how I model the faith for them, and how I show love, affection, and discipline are all extremely important to their own understanding of how God loves us. This might be the hardest one of all!
God has a lot to say to me in this passage, and it’s almost all encapsulated in the very last sentence. I feel like God has mandated a very difficult task to us: be a light to the world, let other’s see your good deeds, and then they, too, will glorify God. That’s a pretty huge responsibility! I feel like I have a lot of work to do to be a better light to those I encounter on a daily basis.
RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?
“O God, how can you trust me with so much!” Seriously, this is my initial reaction. But really, I just want to pray for guidance and for strength to be able to live up to this expectation. I think this is one of the reasons I need to go to adoration every week, I need his graces to help power me through the week. It’s also why I probably need to go to confession more often, I need those graces too.
What I really want to say to God is, “Thank you for bringing me back into the fold of the Church and for the precious gift of my family and my vocation. Give me the strength and wisdom to be a worthy light in this suffering world so that other’s may be led to glorify you in all they say and do as well.”
Read the passage one final time and spend a few moments in quiet contemplation, rest in the words of the Gospel.
What do you feel God is saying to you in this passage? How would you respond to him? Share your thoughts in the comments.